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Newspaper from the African Perspective

By A. G. Kleijweg*


Dear TAB readers: In the last edition, I wrote about The General Pardon and this month I will add a bit more information on it. However, I would first like to give a warning about a future change in immigration law.


Warning about the “Wet Inburgering Buitenland”


As most of you know, if someone wants to come to The Netherlands, he or she must meet some requirements. One of these is the exam one has to sit for and pass at the foreign embassy or consulate. The exam is to test the knowledge of the future immigrant concerning the history, culture and language of The Netherlands.


This exam is already difficult enough for most people, but it will become a bit more difficult starting from 1 December 2007. As far as I see, the language-test will become more difficult but the rest remains the same. Those who make an appointment for the test and pay for the exam before 15 September 2007 will sit for the old “easy” test while others will get the new “difficult” test.


Since the results of the exam will be valid for a full year, a smart immigrant will make sure that he/she gets the “easy” exam by making the appointment and the payment in time. Later on within the year you can apply for the authorisation for temporary stay which you were planning to do later this year, or in the first half of next year.


As a general warning one must keep in mind that immigration law is always changing, but rarely becomes less stringent. So therefore it is good to realize that being passive is not a good strategy.


About The General Pardon


Last time I advised all those who think or hope to benefit from the General Pardon to write a letter to The Staatssecretaris van Justitie, hereafter called the SvJ, with the request to have a decision on their cases. This is useful because The SvJ will take the initiative on whether or not to make a decision, based upon its authority on these matters. The cases of people who are traceable and verifiable for the SvJ will be judged first and quite a number of people already heard the good news.


More complicated is the position of those who do not have such clear cases. I advised these people to ask the “Burgemeester” (Major) for a declaration about their residence during the full year 2006. The request for the declaration must be made to the Burgemeester of the city or village one lived in during 2006. In case of doubt, just ask for the declaration and should you ask for it somewhere else, you will be duly informed.


For the purpose of good administrative reason, different cities have different procedures set up to apply for a Burgemeestersverklaring. One must realize that with the option of a Burgemeestersverklaring an awful lot of work has been put on the shoulders of the local authorities. All this administration must be organised.


In some places one can apply at the city or town hall, in other places, like Den Haag for example, one must turn to Vluchtelingenwerk (refugee work - well known to all ex-asylum seekers) to be assisted with the preparation of the request for a Burgemeestersverklaring. However it has been arranged; just follow the route as described by the Burgemeester.


If the Burgemeester gives a statement that the person concerned, lived in The Netherlands, during the entire year 2006, this will be sent as an advice to the SvJ. Taking good notice of the advice, the SvJ will decide whether a permit based on the General Pardon will be granted or not.


Knowing the above, everybody should understand that the declaration of the Burgemeester is extremely important. Personally, I am convinced that the average Burgemeester is kind enough and willing to give such a declaration.


Giving such an important declaration is only possible if the applicant provides enough evidence to convince the Burgemeester that he or she lived the entire year 2006 in The Netherlands. As evidence, about everything can be offered such as documents, letters, tickets, everything etc.


For more information what kind of evidence is required, I advice you to use Google; type in “Burgemeestersverklaring” and read the first ten hits. Having done that, you will be well informed.


It is also wise search the website of the city you live in or just make a telephone call to the town-hall and you will get proper advice. For additional information you can also go to the website of the Immigration Authorities -


For those who fear that the Burgemeester will give their name and address to the Immigration Authorities in case of negative advice; I can tell you that I do not think any Burgemeester is willing to do so, even though some politicians want this to happen. In my opinion, it will not happen and since Burgemeestersvarklaring is very important, I advise those concerned to overcome their fears.


If the Burgemeester is not giving the Burgemeestersverklaring, one does not have a real chance for a permit based on the General Pardon. So provide every thinkable piece of evidence at the first moment possible. This is the one and only chance, so use it!


For legal questions or consultations, you may contact me through the following: Office address is Laan Copes van Cattenburch 105, 2585 EX, The Hague; Fax number (+31) 070-356 14 02 or e-mail   Note: Please no telephone call.

Disclaimer: The articles on Legal Matters are for general information-purposes only, and may not apply to your situation. They do not take the place of a lawyer. For professional advice, we ask you to seek legal counsel.

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