This morning, the Administrative Law Division of the Dutch Council of State ruled that the family reunification measure for refugees is contrary to Dutch and European law. This measure was part of the asylum agreement the Dutch government concluded in August 2022, following the problems in asylum reception in the Netherlands.

Concretely, this means that the state secretary can no longer tell family members of an asylum status holder to wait six months longer before being reunited with their family in the Netherlands. If the state secretary has granted an application for family reunification, he must ensure that the family members are allowed to travel to the Netherlands immediately.

In the three cases before the Administrative Law Division of the Council of State, the application for family reunification had already been granted by the state secretary, but the family members would only be given entry to the Netherlands after six months.  In December 2022, the courts in Amsterdam, Middelburg and Arnhem ruled that this policy contravened the Aliens Act 2000 and the European Family Reunification Directive. The Administrative Law Division has now confirmed this.

There is no legal basis in Dutch law for the measure in question. Additionally, the measure does not meet the requirements of Dutch and European law. Under the Aliens Act 2000, family members of an asylum status holder have three months to collect a provisional residence permit after one has been granted. A six-month waiting period conflicts with this because the state secretary is not allowed to ignore or postpone this deadline.

The government is only allowed to override the rights under the European Family Reunification Directive in exceptional situations and in case of compelling interests. According to the Administrative Law Division, the shortcomings in asylum reception do not meet this particularly high threshold.

One of the three cases concerned a political refugee from Turkey and his family with two very young children. They were assisted in these proceedings by lawyer Eva Bezem.

The bulletin published by the Council of State is availabe here (in Dutch).

The verdicts are available here (in Dutch):

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