Universities, universities of applied science and students are furious that the Minister of Immigration, Gerd Leers, is raising the charges for non-European scientists and students who want to come to the Netherlands.
For example, a student will now have to pay 600 euros rather than 438 euros for an entry visa and residency permit. Renewing them after a year will cost 150 euros instead of 52 euros. There is a similar increase for scientists, from 338 euros to 650 euros for an entry visa plus residency permit. The costs for renewal are also going up by nearly 100 euros to 375 euros.
Overhasty and not very sensible, says students and universities in a joint press release, for it is impossible to inform students properly in a couple of days about the increased costs. The students have already been informed about the current charges and some of them had even already paid. 'Such mismanagement is extremely damaging to the reputation of the institutions and the Netherlands.'
The Ministry says the new charges are needed to cover the costs incurred by the IND (the immigration service), but the institutions do not find that very convincing: 'The higher education institutions have taken over more and more tasks from the IND over the past few years.'
The costs for the initial visa request and residency permit for a 'highly skilled migrant' who works in the private sector and contributes towards the knowledge economy will remain the same - 938 euros. The Cabinet still makes a distinction between highly skilled migrant and scientists.
Leers writes in his letter: 'I wish to remind you that in the advisory document 'Charges for labour and other migration to the Netherlands', produced by the Advisory Committee on Aliens' Affairs in May 2008, there was no evidence that the charges then applicable were hindering the arrival of knowledge and labour migrants in the Netherlands.'
Even so, the Advisory Committee found the charges high in comparison with other countries and said they should be made cheaper. 'Such a reduction would send a clear signal that the Netherlands pursues a policy of welcoming desirable migrants.'