Legal Rights of Refugees

In order to better understand the legal rights of refugees in the Netherlands, all legal rights newcomers have from the moment they arrive to the Netherlands until the moment they are provided with the permanent permit will be analyzed. Both English and Dutch research was conducted to extract information from more diverse sources but the majority of information was extracted from a report published by the “Kennisplatform Integratie & Samenleving” (KIS, Knowledge platform Integration and Society). The platform aims to conduct research and advice related to integration, migration, and diversity which ultimately contributes to creating more inclusive and stable societies1. In addition, information was extracted from the National Government website, Amnesty International, and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. 

The IND can provide an asylum seeker with a temporary resident permit of 5 years, which can be withdrawn at any time. Afterwards, they are eligible for the permanent permit. To receive this, they must have passed the integration exam (for which they get 3 years, unless exceptions apply). 

Integration Process

Refugees are required to sign a participation statement that outlines the duties, values, and norms of the Dutch society (including freedom, equality, solidarity, and participation). Those who reject this may lose their DUO loon and receive a fine. Furthermore, refugees are advised and guided in integrating into Dutch society. This is aided by an integration exam. Both illiterates and non-illiterate refugees can request to complete the exam in a longer time period based on social, medical, or extreme circumstances. The courses for this exam are not mandatory. If refugees are residing with COA, the courses will be paid for, however, for those who have been provided with municipal residency are required to pay for it themselves. Financial support can be granted by DUO. Permit holders are allowed to loan a maximum of €10,000 for integration courses. They do not have to pay this loan back if they pass the exam within 3 years. 

Social Housing

As soon as the resident permit is granted, refugees are allowed to move to a municipality. The government decides which municipality and aims to meet personal needs throughout the process (such as the distance from work and/or educational facilities). As of 2017, refugees are not provided with municipal residency urgently. 


A refugee with a temporary permit can work in the Netherlands as both a regular employee or independent entrepreneur. As with asylum seekers, refugees who reside in the AZC can work but have to provide a financial contribution to the COA. The participation act, which combines the Work and Social Assistance Act, the Social Work Provision Act and a large part of the Wajong into one scheme and ensures more people gain access to employment. 

Allowances and Dividends

After refugees have been granted municipal residency, they have the right to apply for allowance on the grounds of the Participation Act. They can apply for an “uitkering” for financial support until employment is secured. 


When an asylum seeker has been granted a resident permit, they must apply for healthcare within 4 months. 


Refugees can apply for the Dutch nationality after residing in the Netherlands for 5 years (continuously, of age, in possession of a permanent permit, passed the integration, and have not committed a crime in at least 4 years). 

International Human Rights

A refugee should not be deported to the country of origin if he or she fears persecution, war or violence. They are entitled to the same treatment as a citizen of the Netherlands when granted asylum. 

Additional Matters

When the residency permit is granted, refugees need to register with the Municipal Personal Records Database (BRP) after which you will receive a BSN which will support the refugees in communicating with government agencies.


For information on legal rights in housing click here

For information on legal rights in education click here

Last updated byfmilbauer