More and more children traveling alone are seeking asylum in the Netherlands NOW

More and more children who came to the Netherlands without parents are applying for asylum here. At the same time, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) is facing a more complicated procedure because the Prime Minister decided that the Netherlands sometimes sent these children back too quickly. It creates even more work for IND, which is already unable to cope with the current number of asylum applications.

This year, more than twelve hundred unaccompanied minor asylum seekers (AMVs) who came to the Netherlands without parents have applied for asylum. IND has already seen an increase since the second half of last year.

In 2020 and the first part of 2021, there were far fewer asylum applications from children traveling alone due to the corona pandemic. Due to the travel restrictions, in any case, far fewer asylum seekers came to the Netherlands.

Now that the impact of the corona pandemic is diminishing, the number of asylum applications is rising again. There is such a thing to catch up on, especially in the area of ​​relatives. In addition, the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last year led to an increase in the number of refugees.

It is estimated that 41,500 asylum seekers will come to the Netherlands this year. IND sees a relatively stronger increase in the number of unaccompanied minors, generally teenagers.

In addition, the number of asylum applications from this group is much higher than in most years before 2020. Last year, the majority of these children came from Syria.

2015 was the culmination of the European refugee crisis caused by wars in Libya, Mali and Syria.


2015 was the culmination of the European refugee crisis caused by wars in Libya, Mali and Syria.

2015 was the culmination of the European refugee crisis caused by wars in Libya, Mali and Syria.

Children often travel alone to make requests for family reunification

Research from IND shows that these children primarily want to seek asylum so that their parents can also come to the Netherlands. They are sometimes also sent away by their parents.

The rules for submitting a family reunification application are different in the Netherlands than in other European countries. As a result, unaccompanied minors have the idea that it is easier for them to obtain residency status for themselves and their family in the Netherlands.

Compared to other countries, the Netherlands receives many asylum applications from this group, and that number is increasing. Currently, almost 10 percent of all asylum seekers in the Netherlands are a child who came here without parents.

The Netherlands needs to do better research before the child is returned

The Netherlands will now also adjust the asylum procedure for these UMAs. It is necessary after the Council of State in June ruled that the Netherlands sent some children back too soon. Until recently, children were first told that their asylum application had been rejected, and in some cases, it was only afterwards that they were checked to see if they had a good place to live if they were returned.

According to the Council of State, the Netherlands must first check whether the child has a suitable place of residence, and only then can a decision be made as to whether the asylum seeker may stay or not. The Netherlands can do this, for example, on the basis of statements from the child, checking address information or with the help of experts from aid organizations.

That investigation was initially allowed to take up to three years, but it seems the Cabinet is too long. Therefore, that study must now be completed within a year.

What happens if an unaccompanied minor asylum seeker arrives in the Netherlands?

  • Like other asylum seekers, the children must first register with Ter Apel.
  • After registering, they are taken to a reception center where they await their asylum application. They are assigned a guardian through Nidos.
  • The 15- to 18-year-olds then go to special reception centers for unaccompanied minors. The younger children (13 and 14 years) are placed in a foster family.

IND cannot handle the number of asylum applications

According to State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Justice and Security), the new working method creates more work pressure at IND. Because an investigation must now be carried out immediately, the registration procedure for a minor refugee may also take longer.

If the Netherlands decides that a child should go home after all, there are now more opportunities to appeal that decision. As a result, the number of anchors is also expected to increase.

IND processes asylum applications in the Netherlands, but is already behind in the number of cases, among other things due to staff shortages. At the start of 2022, there were still 21,000 applications pending. Because even more asylum seekers are expected to come to the Netherlands this year than expected last year, this number will increase.

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