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Hilversum, Netherlands
Hilversum, Netherlands

Who gets to be Dutch?

Published on : 25 January 2010 - 11:20am | By John Tyler
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New draft legislation would make it harder to become a Dutch citizen while keeping another passport. At the same time, if approved, the bill could allow thousands of so-called latent Dutch people to finally become fully Dutch.

Ahead of Tuesday’s debate in parliament, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin takes a practical approach to questions of acquiring citizenship. Clear rules, applicable to everyone, but some new limitations as well.

Requirements for foreign nationals to become Dutch:
  • Five years of residence in the Netherlands
  • Pass test of Dutch language and knowledge of Dutch society
  • Give up own nationality
  • Never served time in prison or had to pay excessive fines in the last four years

Visit the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation website for more info

In answer to the question who can become Dutch, Minister Hirsch Ballin keeps it simple.

“One essential requirement for obtaining the Dutch nationality is the ability to express yourself in society as a Dutch citizen. And that requires knowledge and understanding of the Dutch language.”

A language test has been required for a few years now, but the new law extends the language test to those becoming Dutch citizens in the Dutch Antilles and Aruba (even on the islands where Dutch is not the principle language).

Restriction
The new law maintains the five-year residency requirement, but adds a restriction: a new Dutch citizen must renounce his or her former nationality.

For many, this is a controversial measure. On the one hand, there are at the moment about 1.1 million Dutch citizens who have another nationality as well. The trend in other western countries is to allow double nationality, given the increasing mobility in an era of globalization.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem is a Labour MP. He says:

“For the future there’s very little ground to hold on to that rule. Many other countries, and more countries every year, decide to give up on that principle of the one nationality. We’re one of the few countries in Europe that is still holding onto the one nationality principle.”

Exceptions
Others criticize the measure as not going far enough. The new law includes exceptions for those whose original country does not allow its subjects to renounce their citizenship, such as Morocco or Greece.

When the current cabinet was installed, it included two members with dual nationality. Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party questioned their loyalty to the Netherlands, and said dual nationals should not serve in government functions. Freedom Party MP Sietse Fritsma explains:

“The law of the Netherlands is not the same as for example the law of Turkey or Morocco. We should avoid conflicting systems of laws and duties. That’s the reason my party wants to get rid of dual citizenship for new cases.”

But the Freedom Party can be happy with another change in the nationality law. People who harm the interests of The Netherlands can now have their citizenship revoked. This change is thanks to the anxious climate following the bombings in New York, London and Madrid, and two political murders in the Netherlands.

The last change in the law corrects a long-standing inequality. Until 1985, a Dutch woman could not pass on citizenship to her children if she had a foreign partner and gave birth abroad. The new law corrects this, and could allow as many as 90,000 so-called latent Dutch to acquire citizenship.

 

Discussion

Anonymous 14 August 2012 - 6:36pm / st.maarten

DEAR MINISTERS ,
I JUST HAVE THIS QUESTION THAT WHY ST.MAARTEN HAS TO GIVE DUTCH TEST WHEN THE LANGUAGE SPOKEN HERE IS ENGLISH ,WE DON'T EVEN HAVE A ONE DUTCH NEWS PAPER OR ANYTHING AT ALL WHICH CAN SHOW A SIGN OF DUTCH LANGUAGE EXISTS .I HAVE BEEN PAYING TAXES FOR LAST 13 YEARS TO THE ST.MAARTEN GOVERNMENT AND STILL CANT A QUIRE DUTCH CITIZENSHIP I HAVE A SON WHO IS BORN HERE WHAT STATUS DOES HE HAVE WHERE HE CONSIDERS ST.MAARTEN HE CONSIDERS HOME

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Dr S Furqan Ul Haq 5 October 2010 - 4:52pm / Pakistan

discrimination of any sort should be discoureged.humen being are the entiety which flourishes when left free.

Anjohn schenkonymous 23 August 2010 - 7:00pm / canada

my parents emigrated to canada when i was just 12 years old.
when i go back to my fatherland i feel like a forener.
what has hapend the the country i was born in and love so dearly?
we all came to canada to make a better life and adjust with canadian ways and means. my father worked hard all his life to help build canada not tear it down like a lot of dutch emigrants are doing to nederland.
you need to stop this abuse if its not to late already for i want to come back many more times and be able to speek nederlands . ps. [ your not much if your not dutch ] lol.

user avatar
Gwrhyr 25 January 2010 - 4:05pm / Sweden

SJVP, I disagree with that. I think that it devalues citizenship if it can be taken away. And considering the requirement to renounce foreign citizenship it would be impossible for the Netherlands to actually take away someone's citizenship since the Netherlands has signed a treaty on the reduction of statelessness - meaning a they cannot take away Dutch citizenship from someone if they would become stateless. If they had to renounce their previous nationality to get Dutch nationality, they would end up stateless without their Dutch nationality, so the Dutch government could not take it away. So I suppose that would only apply to Moroccan and Greek dual citizens.
All in all these are very messy laws. They just don't go well together or make a lot of sense: Moroccans and Greeks will be allowed to be dual citizens but others will not. That's messy and also discriminatory.

user avatar
SJVP 25 January 2010 - 1:09pm

People who harm the interests of The Netherlands can now have their citizenship revoked. Yes it´s called Treason. People that want to harm the country should not have the Dutch citizenship, I don´t think anyone would disagree with that.

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