The Netherlands is struggling with a surge in asylum applications, leaving around 40,000 applicants and accompanying travellers in limbo.
According to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), as of November 1, over 30,000 new asylum applications have been filed, making it impossible for the authorities to process all the applications.
Despite IND saying that it is processing more applications than it can actually handle, the waiting time has soared, with individuals now being subject to an average wait of more than a year for a decision in the general asylum procedure.
As the authorities reveal, the current backlog stands at more than 42,000 applicants in the general asylum procedure, along with almost 26,000 accompanying travellers awaiting a decision as of October 31 of this year.
Apart from the current backlog, IND said that it expects a high number of asylum applications next year, with the number ranging from 49,000 to 76,000.
The IND expects to be able to process around 47,000 asylum and reunification applications in 2024. And so, the pressure on the IND remains high, and the waiting time for applicants will continue to increase.
As noted, a significant contributor to the delays is the abolition of written hearings, a move promoted by a motion from Brekelmans/Van den Brink. The intention behind this motion was to streamline the asylum process for promising applications, aiming to process 13,000 of them before May 1, 2024.
However, without the efficiency of written hearing, IND expects these processes to take longer.
Previously, written hearings were used for asylum applicants from Syria and Yemen. Applicants undergoing this procedure could share their life stories, and this approach significantly reduced the time required from IND employees, allowing for the processing of more applications in a shorter period.
Adding to the complexity, IND said that the number of applications from unaccompanied minors has also been steadily increasing.
In October of this year, there was a significant increase in first-time asylum applications, reaching 4,987 – higher than previous months and the same month last year.
Based on the trend of previous years, it is expected that the number of applications will also be high in November.
The number of applications filed by unaccompanied minors was also higher than in the previous month in October. Data show that the Netherlands recorded 952 asylum applications filed by unaccompanied minors in October 2023, representing 16 per cent of the total.