As a refugee, you may be given protection in the Netherlands. You will need to apply for asylum for this purpose. During the asylum procedure (in Dutch: asielprocedure), the Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (IND) will investigate on behalf of the Dutch government whether you meet the criteria for refugee status according to the Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
VluchtelingenWerk is currently very busy at the asylum seekers' centres, so it may take longer than usual before we can help you. We ask for your understanding in this matter.
What does the Dutch Council for Refugees do?
VluchtelingenWerk believes that every asylum seeker has a right to a thorough asylum procedure. Our staff provides support during the various steps of the procedure:
- We provide information on the asylum procedure to make sure you understand how it works, which organisations are involved and what is expected of you.
- We explain the letters from the IND and your lawyer.
- We can assist you with substantiating your asylum claim. For example, we can help you have relevant documents sent to the Netherlands. For more information, see this leaflet.
- You or your lawyer can ask for someone from VluchtelingenWerk to attend your hearing to provide support and ensure that you have the opportunity to tell your story.
- We can help you locate acquaintances or relatives.
What does the Dutch Council for Refugees not do?
We cannot help you with the following during your stay at an asylum seekers' centre:
- We cannot support you in matters unrelated to the asylum procedure, family reunification or assistance with your return to your country of origin.
- As such, we are usually unable to assist with applications for other residence permits, such as to stay with a new partner in the Netherlands.
- We also do not assist with fines, divorce, renewal of residence permits, or DigiD or child benefits applications.
- In most cases, we cannot travel with you to see a doctor or visit an embassy.
- The VluchtelingenWerk staff will refer you to organisations that can help you with such matters, or provide the information necessary to arrange them yourself.
This film explains the Dutch asylum procedure. The film is outdated, and parts of the asylum procedure have changed since it was made. We are still showing it to you because it helps give you an idea of the asylum procedure and the organisations you will have to deal with. It also provides tips on what you can do to prepare for the asylum procedure.
You can be granted an asylum residence permit in the Netherlands under certain conditions if you:
- fear persecution because of your race, religion, nationality, political convictions or because you belong to a particular social group;
- fear the death penalty, torture or other inhumane treatment;
- fear becoming a victim of indiscriminate violence due to war in your country of origin;
- are traumatised by events in your country of origin.
Dublin claim, asylum permit in another European country and safe countries
Did you arrive in another European country before you came to the Netherlands, or do you have a visa for another European country? In that case, the information about the Dutch asylum procedure does not apply to you.
Read the leaflet 'Which country is responsible for your asylum application?'. All asylum procedure leaflets are available in various languages on this page.
If you come from a country that has been designated safe by the Dutch government or have an asylum residence permit in another European country, your application will be processed in an accelerated asylum procedure. Read the leaflet 'The accelerated asylum procedure'. All asylum procedure leaflets are available in various languages on this page.
The list of safe countries can be found here: List of safe countries
Where should you apply for asylum?
If you have entered the Netherlands by land and wish to apply for asylum, you must go to Ter Apel. Contact the police anywhere in the Netherlands to get a day ticket to travel to Ter Apel by public transport. If you arrive at Schiphol Airport or a Dutch seaport, you must report to the Koninklijke Marechaussee. They will take you to a closed reception centre (Justitieel Complex Schiphol). Read the leaflet 'Your asylum procedure. Information on the Border Procedure'. All asylum procedure leaflets are available in various languages on this page.
After your arrival in the Netherlands
The application phase begins after you request asylum. The application phase usually takes three days, but may take a little longer in some cases, such as in busy periods.
During the application phase, you must complete the application form. The IND uses the form to collect important information about you. It contains questions about where you live, your family and your journey, for example. You must also briefly explain why you are applying for asylum. The IND uses this information to determine how your asylum procedure will proceed.
After completing the form, your personal data will be registered. You will be photographed and fingerprinted, and your clothes and luggage will be searched. Your phone will also be taken and examined. You will get it back as soon as possible.
Lastly, you will have your first interview with the IND, known as the application interview. An IND employee will ask you questions about your residence, family, documents, and journey to the Netherlands. Your answers are important, so be thorough and precise. You must also briefly explain why you are applying for asylum in the Netherlands. The IND should not ask for details about this at this stage. The information is only used to plan the correct procedure.
An independent interpreter will attend all meetings with the IND, VluchtelingenWerk and your lawyer. If you have trouble understanding the interpreter or notice that they do not understand you or are not translating your story properly, please mention it immediately during the conversation.
Prepare for your asylum procedure
After the application phase, the rest and preparation period begins. The rest and preparation period lasts around six days but can be longer in some cases. You will receive information about the current procedure at the reception centre. In any case, you will undergo a health assessment. The IND uses the health assessment to determine whether you can explain yourself properly during the interviews. After the health assessment, the VluchtelingenWerk staff will inform you of the steps involved in your asylum procedure. Lastly, you will meet your lawyer. If you are staying at an AZC, the first meeting with your lawyer will take place at their office. You will be given a ticket to travel to your lawyer. Your lawyer will guide you through the asylum procedure and help you prepare for the detailed interview. You will also discuss the application interview and whether you have any corrections or additions. Your lawyer is assigned by the government but is an independent party. VluchtelingenWerk employees are also independent.
Talk to VluchtelingenWerk or your lawyer about which documents you can request from your country of origin to support your asylum application, identity, nationality and travel route.
Start of the asylum procedure
Your asylum procedure will begin after the rest and preparation period. Within six to nine days, the IND (a government agency) will determine whether you meet the conditions for an asylum permit or if more time is needed for its investigation. The following is a detailed description of the asylum procedure.
Day 1: Initial interview or verification interview
The second interview with the IND is called the "detailed interview". This is an important meeting during which you can explain in detail why you have fled your country. If you have scars or physical or psychological complaints related to your reason for fleeing, it is important to tell the IND employee. Be honest, thorough and clear about what happened to you.
It is important to tell the story of all your family members, including children if they have their own reasons for fleeing. Read the leaflet 'Accompanied children making an asylum claim in their own right' for more information.
Day 2: : Discussion of detailed interview
Your lawyer will discuss the report of the detailed interview with you. If anything is missing from the report or has not been written down correctly, your lawyer will report the desired changes in a letter to the IND.
Day 3: Intended decision
The IND will assess whether you satisfy the conditions for an asylum residence permit. There are three possibilities:
- You receive a residence permit.
- You receive a letter from the IND stating that it needs more time for the investigation. Your application will now be processed in the Extended Asylum Procedure.
- You receive a letter from the IND stating that it intends to reject your application for asylum and for what reasons.
Day 4: Response
You discuss the intended decision with your lawyer. Together, you can draft a letter providing arguments why you disagree with the intended decision. This letter is called your 'response'.
Day 5 en 6: Decision
The IND makes a decision on your asylum application. There are three possibilities:
- The IND recognises you as a refugee. You will receive a residence permit for five years. VluchtelingenWerk can help you bring your family members to the Netherlands. Read more on the page about family reunification: https://www.vluchtelingenwerk.nl/forrefugees/gezinshereniging
2. The IND needs more time for the investigation. Your application will now be processed in the Extended Asylum Procedure. A decision will be made within six months.
3. The IND determines that you still do not meet the conditions for an asylum residence permit. You will receive a letter from the IND stating why your asylum application has been rejected and that you must leave the Netherlands. Your lawyer can appeal the IND's decision in court. If the court also rules against you, you must leave the Netherlands. Read more on the page 'No residence permit, now what?'
In some cases, the asylum procedure takes 9 days instead of 6. The extra time is intended for complex asylum applications for which the IND believes it will need more time, and for asylum seekers who need more attention due to mental or physical problems.
You are entitled to shelter and living expenses during your asylum procedure. You will stay at a COA asylum seekers' centre (AZC) or at the Justitieel Complex Schiphol. If you receive an asylum permit, you can stay at the reception centre until a home is made available to you. If your asylum application is rejected, your right to shelter ends. Depending on the reason for rejection, you must leave the shelter within a few days.
Repeat Asylum Application
If you have exhausted all legal remedies, you can submit a repeat asylum application. The repeat asylum application is sometimes called a HASA.
A positive decision on your repeat application will require new facts or circumstances. This means new information that you did not provide during your previous asylum procedure, such as events that have changed your situation or the situation in your country of origin, or policy changes that affect you.
Good preparation and a lawyer
A repeat asylum application must be properly prepared. For example, original supporting documents must be submitted along with translated versions. Always ask a lawyer for help. You can submit your repeat asylum application in Ter Apel. Do not travel to Ter Apel until you have completed the application form and have the necessary original documents and translations.
Unfortunately, VluchtelingenWerk in Ter Apel cannot arrange a lawyer for you. Nor can VluchtelingenWerk in Ter Apel help you complete the application form for a repeat asylum application. You will find the form on the IND website.
Information on the IND website
The application form (M35-0) for a subsequent application can be found on the website of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). The IND website also contains more information about a Successive Asylum Application (or so-called HASA).
The Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (IND) is part of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security. The IND will investigate whether you are entitled to asylum in the Netherlands and decide whether you are permitted to stay in the Netherlands.
The Centraal Orgaan opvang asielzoekers (COA) is responsible for the reception and support of asylum seekers in the Netherlands during the asylum procedure.
Raad voor Rechtsbijstand
The Raad voor Rechtsbijstand (RvR) ensures that you get help from a lawyer if you cannot afford one yourself.
Dienst Terugkeer en Vertrek
The Dienst Terugkeer en Vertrek (DT&V) is part of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security. If the IND denies you asylum, the DT&V will help you arrange your return to your country of origin.
Internationale Organisatie voor Migratie Nederland (IOM)
The Internationale Organisatie voor Migratie Nederland (IOM) can help you if you want to leave the Netherlands of your own accord.
The Rode Kruis helps locate missing people.
CoMensha (Commisie mensenhandel)
CoMensha is committed to helping victims and potential victims of human trafficking in the Netherlands.
You are under the age of 18 and have no parents or other people to take care of you officially in the Netherlands. Nevertheless, according to Dutch law, someone has to take care of you officially. This is called guardianship. The organisation that deals with this in the Netherlands is called Stichting Nidos.
Project Time4You focuses on the empowerment of and advocacy for refugee children in the central reception centre.
All asylum procedure leaflets are available in various languages on this page: