The report was previously updated in April 2022.
- Key asylum statistics: In 2022, a total of 35,535 first applications for international protection were lodged in the Netherlands, mainly by Syrian (12,648), Afghan (2,732) and Turkish (2,648) nationals. This is a considerable increase compared to 2021, when the number of first applications was 24,725. The overall recognition rate at first instance stood at 87.2% (53.1% refugee status, 29% subsidiary protection, and 5.1% humanitarian protection). It reached 99% for Afghans, 96.6% for Syrians, and 99.2% for Yemenites. Other nationalities, such as Algerians, received only negative decisions, with a rejection rate of 100% based on 1,206 applications. These statistics also partially explain the long procedures, as the number of first-time applications has increased by 43.7%, whereas the number of FTE at the IND have only increased by 8.2%.
- Pre-registration: Due to the high number of asylum applications and the ongoing capacity problems at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), a pre-registration procedure was implemented in the last quarter of 2022. Since 10 September 2022, it was not possible to directly submit an asylum application in Ter Apel. Instead, asylum seekers have their personal basic information registered, whereafter they are transferred to a temporary shelter location. This is called pre-registration. In practice, asylum seekers then have to wait for a period up to four months, until receiving an invitation for their official registration. Only at the moment of official registration the request for asylum is considered as officially lodged. At the moment it is unsure whether the moment of pre-registration or the moment of official registration will influence the (potential) starting date of the permit. From the end of 2022, the backlog of registrations was reduced, as a consequence, registration started to be once again realised in Ter Apel. On 1 March 2023, the temporary shelter location at Zoutkamp was closed, and asylum seekers are registered directly at Ter Apel, without being requested to travel to the temporary shelter location.
- Legal penalties: The Temporary Act on suspension of penalties for the IND was extended by another year on 11 July 2021; as a result, no judicial and administrative penalties would be forfeited in cases where the IND exceeded the time limit for deciding. On 30 November 2022, however, the Council of State ruled the law is partially incompatible with European Law. The Council of State established that abolishing the judicial penalty was in violation of European law. However, abolishing the administrative penalty was not deemed incompatible with European law. At the moment, in cases where the IND did not decide on the request for asylum, no administrative penalties will be forfeited, although there is the possibility of issuing a judicial penalty.
- Extension of the time limit to issue an asylum decision: At the end of September 2022, the IND decided to extend by nine months the time limit to decide on asylum requests. This means that, for any asylum request where the initial time limit of six months had not expired at the moment of this extension, the time limit for deciding was extended by nine months. Additionally, for any asylum application lodged after 27 September 2022, the time limit for deciding is set to 15 months. This also means that for certain asylum seekers, the IND can take the maximum time limit of 21 months for deciding on their requests for asylum. Three regional courts have so far adopted diverging opinions as to whether this extension is to be considered in line with European and national law. On 3 February 2023, another extension of the time limit for issuing an asylum decision was published, meaning that the time limit for the decision on asylum applications lodged between 1 January 2023 and 1 January 2024 will also be of 15 months.
- Suspension of Dublin transfers: On 13 April 2022, the Council of State ruled that the Secretary of State should conduct further research on the situation of asylum seekers transferred to Croatia under the Dublin Regulation. This is due to reports of frequent pushbacks (including of asylum seekers who have already reached Croatian territory), which may result in a violation of the principle of nonrefoulement. On 30 May 2022, the Secretary of State announced that. until this research is concluded, no Dublin transfers to Croatia will be carried out. As of now, the research has not been finalized and there are no transfers to Croatia. On 6 July 2022, the Council of State issued three judgments on indirect refoulement in Dublin cases in the event of differences in protection policies between Member States. Two of these cases concerned Syrian nationals who argued that they would be at risk of refoulement, were they returned to Denmark, as in the country the province of Damascus is considered as a suitable internal protection alternative. The Council of State ruled that a difference in protection policy may mean that the Dublin transfer cannot be carried out. To this end, the applicant must demonstrate: 1) that there is a fundamental difference in protection policy between the Netherlands and the other Member State (whereby it is established that he would receive protection in the Netherlands and not in the other Member State); 2) that the highest national court in the other Member State does not disapprove of the policy applicable there. In the opinion of the Council of State, the applicants had fulfilled their burden of proof with regard to the Danish policy on Damascus and the level of judicial protection in Denmark.
- Unaccompanied minors: In the case of TQ (C-441/19) of 14 January 2021, the CJEU ruled that a Member State must ascertain – before adopting a return decision – that an unaccompanied minor will have access to adequate reception facilities upon return. The Council of State ruled in the case of TQ on 8 June 2022. After said judgement, there will only be three options for unaccompanied minors who do not qualify for an asylum permit. The first option is that it is established that there is adequate reception in the country of origin. In that case, a return decision is issued. If no adequate reception is available, the unaccompanied minor will receive a residence permit on national grounds. As a third option, it might be considered that additional research into the existance of adequate reception places is needed. This research should not, in principle, last longer than one year.
- Beneficiaries of international protection from Greece: The Ministry of Foreign affairs investigated the situation of BIPs in Greece. The report was published on 24 June 2022. On 7 November 2022, the Secretary of State declared that, following the report, BIPs from Greece could no longer be sent back to the country. However, as the situation in Greece is changing rapidly, cases will still only be decided upon after the prolonged decision period has ended (using the general prolonging of decisions from WBV 2022/22). This means that BIPs from Greece applying for asylum in the Netherlands will have to wait 15 months before their asylum procedure starts. If the asylum procedure starts, the IND will not take in consideration that the person has already been recognized as a beneficiary of international protection in Greece.
- Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the asylum procedure: In 2022, Dutch authorities published, through the Aliens Circular, Country-specific policy documents on 35 countries of origin. These policy documents include, for example, which groups are considered to be at risk, in which areas an armed conflict is considered to reach the art. 15C QD standard, but also for which nationalities there is a Postponement of Decision and Departure in place.
- Reception conditions: The reception crisis started in 2021 continued throughout 2022. Approximately 20,000 asylum seekers have been estimated to be living in inhumane conditions, that do not meet minimum legal standards. Living conditions in (crisis)emergency reception centres for refugees and asylum seekers are seriously inadequate. Many locations do not provide for respect of basic needs such as privacy, security and warmth. There are also concerns about access to health care, education and other activities for children. Asylum seekers are also subjected to frequent moves from one centre to the other.
- Ter Apel: From May 2022, newly arrived asylum seekers waiting to register their application in Ter Apel reportedly had to sleep on chairs, on the floor or outdoors in front of the centre, for one or more days. By July, the number of asylum seekers sleeping in the open air had risen to 300. On 24 August 2022, 700 people slept outside in front of the Ter Apel Although attempts were made to house them in crisis emergency locations, there were not always enough places available. Moreover, many asylum seekers felt compelled to stay in Ter Apel as they feared missing the possibility to register, a fear that actually concretised for some applicants. At the beginning of September, the Ministry of Defence opened a location at Marnewaard to temporarily house unregistered asylum seekers during their registration period at Ter Apel. From the opening of this ‘waiting room’, no more asylum seekers slept outside in Ter Apel – except for one night in some limited cases.
- (Crisis) emergency locations: Almost half of the people entitled to reception conditions were hosted in temporary emergency locations (managed by COA) or crisis emergency locations (managed by the municipalities) in 2022. These locations varied from sport halls, tents, boats, cruise ships, old office buildings and hotels, whose conditions were often extremely below acceptable standards, lacking privacy, protection from weather conditions and quiet spaces.
- Reception of unaccompanied minors: In 2022, UAMs were especially affected by the reception crisis. In the COL location in Ter Apel there is space and guidance for 55 UAMs. Throughout the year, this location hosted more than 200-300 UAMs. The Ombudsperson for Children raised concerns regarding their situation in Ter Apel multiple times. On her visit in October 2022, she reported encountering a group of around thirty boys and two girls who had been staying in the waiting room of the IND for three days. They indicated there was no place for them at the centre. They waited all day in their plastic chair and sleep in another identical waiting room at night on a stone floor or on a chair with a sheet and something that passes for a blanket. They looked grey with fatigue. They did not have a bed, nor were there sanitary facilities. They did not eat enough. They brushed their teeth with their fingers in the toilet and there is no shower.
- Court proceedings on reception conditions: On 7 July 2022, the Dutch Council for Refugees (VWN) formally announced that it holds the State and COA responsible for the current circumstances which violate the Reception Conditions Directive and that if the situation would not improve within a month, it would take the matter to court in a tort procedure. On 17 August 2022, the Dutch Council for Refugees (VWN) summoned COA and the State in front of the Court of the Hague. On 6 October 2022, the court of first instance confirmed that the State has an obligation of result to take appropriate measures to guarantee dignified reception facilities for asylum seekers (ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2022:10210). Especially the conditions for UAMs and vulnerable asylum seekers needed to be improved in a few weeks. The overall situation had to be improved within nine months. On 20 December 2022, the Court in appeal upheld the essence of the earlier ruling: the reception conditions for thousands of asylum seekers are harmful and do not meet minimum legal requirements (ECLI:NL:GHDHA:2022:2078). However, although the Court expects the State and COA to fulfil their legal obligations as soon as possible, the deadline given to the State to improve all reception conditions has been revoked. The Court also ruled that the State treats displaced persons from Ukraine and asylum seekers from other countries unequally.
- Enforcement and supervision location (HTL): In August 2022, the Inspection of the Ministry of Justice and Security paid an unannounced visit to the HTL following the report of a ‘whistleblower’ who notified eight incidents in the twenty days that he worked at the HTL. The Inspection established that the housing supervisors, who work for the COA and the DJI, used coercion and violence. For example, housing supervisors pushed, slapped or kicked asylum seekers and made unauthorized use of handcuffs. In his response, however, the Secretary of State indicated not having recognized any pattern of disproportionate violence on the HTL.
Detention of asylum seekers
- Reasonable prospect of removal: On 14 November 2022, the Council of State ruled that a reasonable prospect of removal towards Morocco can currently be considered existing (ECLI:NL:RVS:2022:3269). According to the Court, there is instead still no reasonable prospect of removal towards Algeria (ECLI:NL:RVS:2022:1276, 4 May 2022).
- Legal review of its own motion / ex officio: Answering preliminary questions of the Council of State and the Regional Court of Den Bosch, the CJEU ruled (C-704/20 and C-39/21 (C, B, X), 8 November 2022) that it follows from CEAS provisions on detention – which give concrete form to the right to effective judicial protection safeguarded in Article 47 of the Charter -, that Member States must provide for a ‘speedy’ judicial review, either ex officio or at the request of the person concerned, of the lawfulness of that detention.
Content of international protection
- Family reunification: A new integral assessment framework for rules on proving evidence of identity and family ties in family reunification cases was introduced following a judgment of the Council of State of 26 January 2022. Currently, the Secretary of State has to make an integral assessment of all the documents submitted and statements made, as well as to take into account other relevant elements of the case like, such as the age and gender of the family member and the administrative practice in the country of origin. Differently from before, the INS has to make a motivated assessment whether there is reason to give the sponsor the benefit of the doubt. This means that a right to further investigation arises when there is substantial indicative evidence or plausible explanations about the lack of documents. Additional research like dna-research or interviews can also be offered, if needed under the principle of the benefit of the doubt. Another signficant development in 2022 was the measure adopted by the Cabinet on family reunification in response to the reception crisis. This temporary measure entailed the introduction of a waiting period before family members of protection beneficiaries could obtain their visa at a consular service after a positive decision had been given by the IND. Several courts ruled that the measure was unlawful, but the State secretary persisted in holding on to the measure until the Council of State had expressed its position. In February 2023, the Council of State ruled that the measure was indeed unlawful. The measure, which was already suspended since 11 January, was finally abolished.
The information given hereafter constitute a short summary of the annex on Temporary Protection in the Netherlands, for further information, see Temporary Protection Netherlands.
Temporary protection procedure
- Scope and temporary protection procedure: As a result of the Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382), detailed national measures have been introduced. Persons who fall within the scope of the TPD and want to benefit from its provisions in the country have to apply for asylum; they will be considered as asylum seekers falling under a specific asylum regime. They do not obtain a residence permit. The persons who fall under the TPD will remain in the country as asylum seekers granted temporary protection. After arrival in the Netherlands, displaced persons from Ukraine are – after an initial assessment – registered by a municipal official in the Personal Records Database (Basisregistratie Personen, BRP). After the registration in the BRP, the Secretary of State (IND) reassess whether the displaced person is entitled to temporary protection. At the same time, the displaced person has to submit an asylum application with the IND, but the assessment of the application is on hold as long as the temporary protection is in force. Beneficiaires of temporary protection obtain a proof of residency.
- Non-Ukrainian nationals: Initially, non-Ukrainian nationals who were displaced and had a valid Ukrainian residence permit on 23 February 2022– regardless of whether this was a temporary or a permanent residence permit – were entitled to temporary protection. However, application of the TPD concerning non-UA nationals has changed. As of 19 July 2022, non-UA nationals who merely held a temporary residence permit in Ukraine no longer fall under the scope of the TPD in the Netherlands. Non-UA nationals who had already been registered by a municipality in the BRP before the policy change on 19 July 2022 benefit from temporary protection initially until 4 March 2023, but the Secretary of State of Justice & Security announced on 10 February 2023 that this will be extended until 4 September 2023. The IND started the assessment of asylum applications of people falling within this group.
Content of temporary protection
- Reception:Due to extraordinary circumstances, the Dutch government found itself unable to provide (emergency) accommodation to the displaced persons within the existing structure. This is the reason that the Dutch government activated, on 1 April 2022, the Relocation Population Act (Wet verplaatsing bevolking), which is state emergency law. As a result, the municipalities (mayors) are given the statutory duty (task) to provide for the reception of displaced persons from Ukraine. Furthermore, this task has been implemented in the Regulation for the Reception of Displaced Persons from Ukraine. Under this scheme, municipalities (mayors) must provide shelter, a monthly financial allowance for food, clothing and other personal expenses, recreational and educational activities, insurance against financial consequences of legal liability and the possible payment of extraordinary costs. To replace the Relocation Population Act a draft proposal was created: the Temporary Act on the Reception of Displaced Persons from Ukraine. Once this law has passed the responsibility for the municipalities to provide for the reception of displaced persons from Ukraine will be transferred from the Relocation and Population Act to the Temporary Act.
- Proof of residency. Once a displaced person has been registered in the BRP, they have to obtain proof of residency from the IND. At that moment, the IND reassesses whether the person concerned should be granted temporary protection, which means that the IND could refuse temporary protection (and the proof of residency). Complaints against the refusal could be made; in case of a refusal from the IND, the entitlement to rights arising from the TPD, such as the right to housing and to work, cease immediately, and the complaint has no suspensive effect, so that a regional court has to be requested to grant a provisional measure. Several judgments on requests to grant a provisional measure have been issued. As far as known the Secretary of State (IND) has not issued any new decision on the written complaints yet.
- Access to asylum: Ukrainian nationals who do not fall under the scope of the Temporary Protection Directive in the Netherlands and who have submitted an asylum application at the application centre in Ter Apel the following applies. From 28 February 2022, the State Secretary (IND) does not have to take a decision on Ukrainians’ asylum applications on the grounds that a suspension on decisions on Ukrainian asylum applications applies. This means that, as a rule, the IND has 18 months (with a maximum of 21 months) for taking a decision on new and pending asylum applications of Ukrainian nationals. This is based on Article 43 of the Aliens Act. Recently, this measure was prolonged until (at least) 28 August 2023. Rejected asylum seekers from Ukraine initially were not forced to return to Ukraine, but the measure regarding the suspension on forced returns has not been extended, as the maximum duration of this suspension is one year. This is based on Article 45 (4) of the Aliens Act.
 Council of State, ECLI:NL:RVS:2022:1042 and ECLI:NL:RVS:2022:1043, 13 April 2022.
 Council of State, ECLI:NL:ABRVS:2022:1862; ECLI:NL:ABRVS:2022:1863 and ECLI:NL:ABRVS:2022:1864, 6 July 2022.
 CJEU, TQ v Staatssecretaris van Justitie en Veiligheid, C-441/19, 14 January 2021.
 Council of State, ECLI:NL:RVS:2022:1530, 8 June 2022.
 Council of State, Decision 202006519/1/V1, 26 January 2022.
 Regional Court Haarlem, 22 December 2022, ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2022:14102; Regional Court Middelburg, 22 December 2022, ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2022:13902; Regional Court Haarlem, 22 December 2022, ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2022:14104; Regional Court Arnhem, 23 December 2022, NL22.20578; Regional Court Amsterdam, 23 December 2022, ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2022:14097.