Limburg versus Civic Integration Act 2013

From time to time, national and regional newspapers report about Dutch integration affairs. A while ago, we read about how the Civic Integration Act 2013 is failing miserably, as it puts all responsibility for integration in the hands of refugees. They are given three years to complete the integration period and take the required exams.

Three year integration period
In legal terms, there’s a difference in asylum seekers, or migrants and refugees. Asylum seekers have not been assessed and recognized as refugees yet, they only have a few rights and are not allowed to work. Refugees have been granted a legal status and have a permit to work, study and live in the Netherlands. They must learn Dutch and learn about Dutch society and culture within three years, as is mentioned above. As it turns out, too many refugees fail their integration exams. That’s why municipalities in Limburg have decided to play an active role in those integration procedures, once again.

One out of three refugees finish integration course
The Civic Integration Act 2013 stipulates that refugees are responsible for their own integration period and exams, also financially. They can borrow money to pay for their language and integration courses from DUO, Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs, the governmental Education Executive Agency. Research however has proven that in reality, only one out of three refugees who started an integration course, succeeds within the given three year period.

Taking matters into their own hands
Many municipalities in Limburg aren’t happy with the outcome of the Civic Integration Act. Refugees remain out of sight and it takes up too much time before they can start a job. “Prior to 2013, we managed on our own and knew how to accompany these people in learning Dutch and finding jobs. Now they are supposed to know which language and integration course is right for them. That can be very hard for someone not familiar with Dutch or this country and its people,” says alderman Martijn van den Heuvel from the city Weert.

Keurmerk Inburgeren

The city Weert will start offering refugees help in finding a suitable education and a fitting (volunteer)job. In Maastricht, a new project for young adults who just turned eighteen has started. They will be guided in the process of finding a proper education or a job they would like. The city will work closely with the UM, ROC Education and Vluchtelingenwerk Maastricht.

Leeuwenborgh Education in Maastricht already offers a series of integration courses “custom made” depending on one’s needs or education level in their country of origine.


(part of this article is from

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