Outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte in his office.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Dutch cabinet torn apart by debate over asylum policy: here's what you need to know
Published at: 7/10/2023, 3:29 PM

The Dutch cabinet fell on Friday, 7 July 2023, after a long discussion on migration policy. The right to family reunification for people with asylum residence permits was an important issue in this.

Coalition parties disagreed on family reunification

Last week it emerged that the

coalition party
and VVD and CDA wanted to make family reunification more difficult for some refugees with an asylum residence permit. Coalition parties VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie could not agree on this matter. This caused the
to fall. New elections will be held in mid-November 2023.

The cabinet is now "outgoing". This means that no major political decisions will be made until after the elections. As a result, little to nothing is likely to change in the coming period about how family reunification is currently regulated in the Netherlands.

VVD wanted to distinguish between refugees

In the Netherlands, you can receive an asylum residence permit for two reasons, this is called

reason A
reason B
. With both permits, you have the same rights in the Netherlands. For example, you can apply for family reunification with both asylum permits.

The VVD party wanted this to change, but it did not succeed. The VVD proposed a distinction between the rights of refugees. That way, they hoped fewer people would apply for asylum in the Netherlands.

People with a permit based on reason B would, under the VVD's proposal, receive a residence permit that had to be renewed every year. It would also make it more difficult for refugees with reason B to apply for family reunification for their family members.

This had been under discussion for months. Coalition parties ChristenUnie and D66 did not agree. That is why the cabinet has now fallen.

Requirements for an asylum residence permit
On this page you can read more about the conditions for applying for asylum in the Netherlands. The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) assesses whether you meet these conditions. Read here under which conditions you can apply for asylum.

Possible new talks after election

An outgoing cabinet should not discuss issues on which there are many different opinions among political parties. It is possible that a new coalition will discuss Dutch asylum policy again after the November elections.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the VVD has announced that he will not stand for re-election.

Family reunification
If you have an asylum residence permit and want to reunite with family members, you can ask to have your family members come over to the Netherlands. This is called family reunification. On this page you can read about family reunification.
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