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Dutch government requires culture knowledge test of immigrants

Integration a long process

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE Would-be immigrants hoping to establish residency in the Netherlands and eventually obtain Dutch citizenship, first must follow a course about Dutch society, its institutions and history. They also need to pass a special test on Dutch language and culture, the Second Chamber of Parliament has decided. The new test will cost $420 and is thought to require 250 to 350 hours of study.

Some 14,000 applicants, mainly from Turkey, Morocco and Surinam, are expected to take the test each year. Candidates will have to take the test in their country of origin, and will be examined at Dutch embassies and consular offices. The ministry only will issue Residency permits when the tests have been passed successfully. The Netherlands, which already has a strict immigration policy, hopes to cut down on the number of so-called "import brides."

More tests

Applicants will not be issued with course material to prepare for the exam, but the government will issue introductory material about Dutch films and prepare sample tests.

The Justice ministry, which is responsible for the program, says that because integration into Dutch society is a long process, it is important that newcomers have a basic knowledge of Dutch language and Dutch society before coming to the Netherlands.

Applicants for a Dutch passport already must pass a lengthy and expensive integration test once if they have lived in the country shorter than eight years.

This process costs thousands of dollars, but up to 70% of the cost may be reimbursed by the government.

The new requirement will be in addition to the existing integration test.