Wetenschap - 15 juni 1995

Alien registration procedures becoming clearer

Alien registration procedures becoming clearer

The bureaucratic knot facing foreign students who bring their families to the Netherlands for the duration of their study is beginning to be untangled.


For the past year confusion has reigned among both students and the university administration concerning the changes in procedures and requirements for alien registration. Dean of Foreign Students, Jeanine Hermans, describes the situation, I guess you could say that the real confusion began about one year ago. The new rules concerning foreigners introduced by the Dutch government affected the procedure for obtaining a residence permit, and created more paperwork for those who wish to bring their families with them. Because individual situations varied so much, and the law was so new, nobody really knew what they had to do." There are certain basic requirements which have to be met in order to allow a foreign student to bring his or her family to the Netherlands. These include having health insurance and an income of approximately 1,800 Dfl per month. Last year, however, the procedure became more complex, with the introduction of the Provisional Residency Permit (MVV) r
equirement in April 1994. This stipulates that foreigners from certain countries who wish to stay longer than three months in the Netherlands have to return to their own country in order to request permission to extend their stay.

Many foreign students at the WAU who were caught in the transitional period have spent large amounts of time, money and energy in sorting out the procedures for themselves and family members. Jeanine Hermans continues, Many students already in the Netherlands tried to organize the paperwork to bring their families over to join them, but it became almost impossible to arrange this while they remained in the Netherlands. The Dean's Office for Foreign Students told students what documents they needed, but there was no comprehensive summary of all the information required by both the Alien Police and the Municipality available. It was also unclear precisely what stamps were needed for legalization."

Clarity

The confusion of the past has led to some positive developments in the provision of information for future foreign students, in particular concerning the documents they require for registration with the police and municipality. Dean Hermans is fairly enthusiastic these days, The dust has begun to settle. We now have a list which will be sent to all prospective students. It is the result of cooperation between the municipality and our office. This list summarizes all the necessary documents which a student should bring with him or her. It is easy to feel discriminated against when one cannot make head nor tail of a country's bureaucracy. The best way to avoid disappointment and frustration is to make clear in advance exactly what documents are required. By providing this information in good time you can empower people so that they can function within the rules of another society, because they are not taken by surprise, and can be prepared."

Although progress has been made, the Alien Police spokesperson in Ede indicated that cooperation could still improve: It is good that the University and the Municipality are organizing together to inform people about the documents required for registration. However, our problem remains that we have to deal with many different organizations and individuals. Not everyone is equally well informed. The Alien Police deal directly with the foreign students, and there are some PhD students who arrange to come and study here through direct contact with a professor in a particular department. They show up here and present their passport, declaring I'm here to study. They have no letter of invitation, no family documents or certificates of educational qualifications. Often the professor or contact person has not informed the student of the documents that are necessary for the paperwork to be completed. From our side we have to work with the DLO (Ministry of Agriculture) as we
ll as with the Dean's Office, not to mention tracking down all PhD students who are registered in a specific department, and not centrally. The ideal situation would be one where every foreign student is registered at a centralized welfare office."

Optimistic

Ankie Lamberts of the Dean's Office takes up the story from their side, Sandwich PhD students do not usually bring their families with them, because of the short duration of their stay here. But we are trying to send the list of documents required to all MSc students and foreign PhD students registered with us. The problem is, of course, that certain professors have contact with a PhD candidate without informing us of the person's arrival, or such a person's wish to bring the family over."

Ideally the procedure should run as follows: foreign students wishing to bring their families with them should be able to meet the preliminary requirements of income, health insurance and an accommodation address. Then he or she must be able to produce the appropriate documents. In order for this time consuming and costly process to run as smoothly as possible it is recommended that all foreign students obtain the information list which explains the details involved in the procedure. The Dean's Office and the Municipality are optimistic that this list can at least help to smooth the way through the bureaucratic jungle. For the student, however, this is often only the start of the paper chase. Next week we look at the other side of the story: the experiences of foreign students here .....

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