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Integration law for immigrants

Country of implementation
The Netherlands
General short description of the innovation
This law obliges immigrants from non-European countries without Dutch nationality to pass an exam on Dutch language and basic Dutch cultural traits, to finish vocational education or to pass an exam for ?Dutch as second language?. Failing to pass any of these exams means / a permit to stay for an indeterminate period in the Netherlands will not be granted. Until 2013 immigrants could be financially supported to prepare for these exams and services for voluntary integration were available. Municipalities could contract private providers to offer preparatory programs. Since 2013 immigrants have to arrange this and pay for themselves and voluntary integration is no longer supported. /
Target group
Policy Field
  • education
  • social
Type of Policy
  • public
Duration of the policy
Since 2007, several revisions since its enactment, there was a major change in 2013
Scope of innovation
  • Scope: Structural
  • Number of intended beneficiaries: Not available, there has been debate on the exact numbers. The action plan on integration (2007) mentions 250,000 immigrants who were potentially obliged to pass the exam
  • Spatial coverage: National
Nature of the innovation-long-term perspective
The obligation to integrate is structural
Type of innovation
  • new policy, practice or measure
New outputs
  • governance (A market for privatised integration services has been created as a result of this law)
  • learning workplaces (Until 2013 learning workplaces could be provided)
  • others (The obligation to integrate for certain groups of migrants)
  • training schemes (Until 2013 trainig was available)
Intended target group
Immigrants without Dutch nationality from non-European countries.
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • central state (Regulation)
  • municipal government (Until 2013: organisation/tendering of private integration services for certain target groups, implementation of the obligation to integrate for certain groups)
  • private for-profit organisations (commercial) (Provision of integration services)
  • private not-for-profit organisations (e.g. Third Sector organisation or NGO) (Provision of integration services, national educational administrative organisation DUO: responsible for selecting the target group and for administrating and organising the exams)
Intended output
  • governance (Privatisation of integration services)
  • learning workplaces (Until 2013)
  • others (Regulations with regards to obligation to integrate)
Did the innovation have any outcome related to job quantity?
Witvliet et al. (2013) find that the integration law has a small net impact on labour participation of new immigrants with low educational level who pass the exam and on migrants who voluntarily participated in the program. For resident migrants (?old comers?) labour participation has decreased slightly
Intended and unintended outcomes
until 2010: 33,000 people participated in the exam, of whom 90% succeeded. In 2012 the number of exams dropped to 11,000 exams and a success rate of 66%. Compared to migrants who do not pass the exam, participants participate in work 0.3 months longer in the migrants without exam.
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
The law has had a modest effect for certain groups of immigrants. It had a slow start up and it turned out difficult to determine who was obliged to integrate and who not (since exemption for various reasons was also possible). The number of immigrants actually passing the exam has been lower than expected, it is not clear what happens to the immigrants who do not pass the exam in time. Since 2013 immigrants have become responsible to prepare for the exam themselves and additional state support is no longer available. Witvliet et al (2013) suggest a modest positive net impact on labour market participation and, based on qualitative data, social participation. These positive effects are only visible with new migrants who have passed the exam. The impact on resilience is therefore modest. The most promising aspect appear to be the ?dual trajectories? in which language training and working experience are combined.
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