To become a Dutch citizen or not? That is the question.
To apply for a Dutch passport via Naturalisation (the legal act or process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country), you must meet at least the following two main requirements*:
- Be living in the Netherlands for five years (three years if married to a Dutch citizen)
- Show that you can read, write, speak and understand the Dutch language. One method of proving this is by passing the inburgeringsexamen (civil integration exams).
*There are additional requirements you must meet in order to become a Dutch citizen, which you can read here.
Due to the fact that;
- I have now been living in the Netherlands for almost six years.
- I have been married to and living together with a Dutch citizen for ten years.
- I have passed the inburgeringsexamen.
..it means that I have actually been eligible to apply for a Dutch passport for over two years now. I was aware of this; however, due to the cost of applying for a Dutch passport via naturalisatie (almost one thousand euros!), I have been putting it off.
Now that my five year temporary residence permit is due for renewal this year, I am re-evaluating my options. After speaking with the IND, they have confirmed that I have two options…
- Apply for an onbepaalde visum to become a permanent resident for a fee of 250 euros (and 51 euros every five years thereafter to continue to renew).
- Apply for a Dutch passport via the gemeente (with the IND making the final decision). The fee for this application is now 855 euros and I would be required to attend a naturalisatieceremonie (naturalization/citizenship ceremony). ADDED NOTE: This whole process can take up to twelve months, so check when your visa expires!
Either option allows me to remain in the Netherlands. As far as I can tell, the only main differences between the two (apart from the significant difference in cost), is that with a Dutch passport I could vote (meh) and work for the police force (not happening). If I had been living in the Netherlands for fifteen years or more continuously, the fee for citizenship would have been significant less. Like 800 euros less.
In any case, the sense of comfort and relief that would come with having an EU passport is priceless and I am the only member of our family who does not hold a Dutch passport. As a non-EU citizen, it would be wonderful to be in a position where I can hold an EU passport in one hand and my Australia passport in the other.
For many, to become a Dutch citizen, it also means that they must be prepared to renounce their nationality. Thankfully, as an Australian married to a Dutch man, if I were to apply for Dutch citizenship, I would not be required to sacrifice my original nationality, as unfortunately many others must. To me, that would be an impossible choice, so I’m relieved that I am in a situation where I no not have to make it. I am proud to be Australian and would never want to give this up. At the same time, I really like the idea of being part of a citizenship ceremony here in the Netherlands. I think it would be a very proud moment.
So…to be a Dutch citizen, or a Dutch resident?? Decisions, decisions…
I will let you know once I decide. What did you decide on if you were faced with this decision?
Update as of June 2017
Hi all, just wanted to give you an update on this. In January this year, I decided to go ahead and apply for my dutch citizenship via naturalisatie and reluctantly paid the huge fee. My five year residency visa is due to expire this July and I was informed upon application at the gemeente that it may take the IND 6-9 to look into my application and respond! Then if approval is given, it still takes time to apply for the actual passport. I have travel plans in July and do not feel comfortable leaving NL without a valid visa to get back in and well, I would like to continue working (!!)
I waited until May and called the IND in the slim chance that perhaps they got around to looking at it earlier (silly me). Much to my disappointment, they hadn’t even opened my file yet and they also informed me that it would more likely take 9-12 months! This now meant that I would need to bite the bullet and apply for an extension of my residency permit in addition to my citizenship. Even though the IND suggested I wait until June and check in on the once status again, I immediately applied for the visa extension in May anyway just to be sure; I was another 250 euros out of pocket. Then, get this, I received a letter in the mail to say thank you for your application to extend your visa, we will get back to you in August or September with our decision.
So after all my doubled up application efforts and paying 1200 euros in fees, I still have a problem. Apparently, due to Brexit, there is a longer than usual waiting time at the Dutch immigration department. Anyway, after a million phone calls, they have agreed to add a sticker to my passport this month which shows that my visa application is ‘in process’ and I am hoping that will be sufficient at Schipol airport.
Update as of October 2017
On October 12th, I received a letter stating the following: “Zijne Majesteit de Koning heeft een positief besluit genomen op uw verzoek om naturalisatie”. My application for Dutch citizenship has been approved!!! In November I will attend a naturalisatieceremonie at my local gemeente, which I am very much looking forward to.