Into the Modern Age of Immigration – a fast and easy visa system in place for international students
The Netherlands has wheeled out the welcome wagon for international students by officially adopting the Modern Migration Policy Act on 1 June this year, thus simplifying application procedures for students wanting to come and study here. But what are the real pros and cons of the MiMo?
WUAS’s administrative team has unpacked the new migration laws and what affect it might have on operations at the university.
Student Registrar, Santosh Aryal, says one of the real benefits is that residence permits can be granted for longer periods which means less renewal procedures. “There is no longer any need for students to apply for a residence permit every year (of their studies).” However, he points out the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) wants the educational institution to be responsible for keeping the students’ file updated. “This means more administrative work for them together with more responsibility.”
Wittenborg’s Human Resource Manager, Karen Penninga, says the new migration law simplifies the visa/residence permit procedure to stay in the Netherlands and, in fact, transforms it into one single procedure. “The student will receive his or her residence permit shortly after arrival in the Netherlands which is more inviting to the student and has a positive effect on other things the student needs to arrange such as a bank account.
“The new law also enables international students to change educational programmes without the need to apply for a residence permit. Furthermore, the residence permit is now valid for a maximum of five years - so you do not have to renew your ID card in this period.
Karen says one of the possible downsides of the new law is that a minimum of 30 European Credits have to be achieved in a given academic year. “If not, the residence permit has to be cancelled by Wittenborg. Unless there is a good reason for the underachievement.
“Also, original signed documents and a pass photo has to be sent from the student’s home country in order to apply for the residence permit. This can turn into a time consuming exercise if it’s not done correctly or the photo does not match the criteria as it then has to be resend.
“Wittenborg remains responsible for having all documents in the student’s file, even if the student does not have to renew his or her residence permit. Wittenborg needs to ensure the student provides a financial statement and other documents proving the right of residence in the Netherlands.”
June 1st 2013 marked the official adoption of the Dutch Modern Immigration Act which will streamline the application process for entry visas and residence permits as well as reduce the administrative workload for both government and educational institutions. While the impact will be greatest for new students applying to study in the Netherlands, current students also stand to benefit from a number of simplifications and modifications to the current laws.
One of the most interesting changes for current students is the lengthened period of validity for residence permits. Under the old system, an international student’s residence permit was valid only for the duration of their registration at an educational institution. Students who registered for one year, would receive a permit for one year and were then required to re-apply as many times as necessary until graduating. With the implementation of the new law, current students who apply to renew their residence permit will have the date extended to a maximum of five years (including any time already spent in the Netherlands). While this initial renewal still requires an application fee, students will no longer be required to pay subsequent renewal fees of €150, which could equate to several hundred euros saved over the course of a bachelor’s program.
The Modern Immigration Act also affords students more mobility within their study programs. Previously, students were required to submit a change of purpose application costing upwards of €600 if, for example, they switched from an English preparation course to a Bachelor’s program, or from a Bachelor’s program to a Master’s. The new, prolonged residence permit allows international students to make this change without any additional fee.
Another incentive of the Modern Immigration Act is that the waiting period for the initial residence permit will be significantly reduced. International students throughout the Netherlands can attest to the long wait between submission of all the necessary documents and the actual receipt of their first permit. Previously delayed by the submission of paperwork and legal documents to multiple sources, the new policy calls for interested applicants to submit all their original documents directly to the school which will then forward properly submitted applications to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service. The result is that students can acquire their residence permit immediately upon arriving in the Netherlands instead of waiting up to six weeks in some cases.
Of course the longer validity, reduced application fees and expedited delivery of the residence permit warrant administrative changes as well. Educational Institutions will be required to submit reports to authorities regarding students who do not make sufficient academic progress throughout their studies. In most cases, sufficient progress is defined as achieving half the number of credits a full-time student would normally accrue during an academic year. While this represents a small addition to the paperwork associated with the immigration process, the numerous advantages accompanying the implementation of this new legislation undoubtedly tip the scales in its favor. The coming months will serve to illustrate if the Modern Immigration Act indeed simplifies immigration policy as it promises, or if it bears with it a series of unforeseen complications.
by Andy Fekete and Anesca Smith