Monday, August 17, 2009

Help in sight with the Expatriation Process into the Netherlands?

October this year sees the launch of the Expatise HR Portal, which is an initiative of the Dutch Expat Foundation with support from the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel). The idea is to provide a one-stop information shop for expats and employers in the Netherlands on issues such as immigration policies and processes, employment rights, insurances, tax, pensions and relocation.

It will also provide an opportunity for people to share information and experiences and follow courses.

For many expats, finding their way round the systems in the Netherlands can be somewhat problematic. The Dutch Expat Foundation lists the top five annoyances of expats in the Netherlands when it comes to getting established here:

  1. Dutch forms
  2. poor provision of information
  3. bureaucracy
  4. Dutch websites
  5. not feeling welcomed at institutions

I can certainly vouch for the top annoyance. None of my encounters with the IND (Immigratie en Naturalisatie Dienst) have been positive experiences. The first application for a resident's permit was made in Voorschoten, where I then lived. A few months later we moved to The Hague. We were assured that the paperwork would be transferred and we had to take no further action. Six months later we thought it strange that we had heard nothing, and nine months after I arrived in the Netherlands I was no closer to obtaining the required documents.

One telephone call with the IND revealed that The Hague region had no idea about my application and I was not in their system. No paperwork could be traced so it was back to square one. A mountain of paperwork, copies of documents, and copies of copies.

About a year after I entered the Netherlands I became the owner of a residents permit, which lasted for five years. Deep joy: five years later I could enter the spider web of Dutch bureaucracy once more.

Three attempts to ascertain which forms were necessary for a "verlenging" of my resident's permit resulted in the IND sending me three different forms. The first two got responses from the IND, months after sending them in, detailing that the forms were the wrong ones. To make matters worse, instead of returning the forms to me they had destroyed them. Back to square one with form three... which incidentally looked EXACTLY like the first form I completed!

A call to the IND and we were told that the organisation had recently gone though a bit of a reorganisation and the forms had been streamlined and redesigned. The result was that staff were a little unsure of the correct forms to be used in the different circumstances. And yes indeed, form three was indeed the same as form one.......

I then got a letter back telling me the photo was not suitable for resident's card, as the rules had just changed and I needed to send in another photo. A day later I received a letter from Zoetermeer council telling me that I could come and pick up my new resident's card from the town hall.

Do you have a more positive experience with the IND and the immigration process? Or could you have used more help in the process? I would love to hear your tales!

Let's hope the new portal goes some way to clearing up the confusion expats feel when faced with the Dutch paper trail.

No comments:

Post a Comment