I am the proud holder of a Dutch verblifsdocument – regulier onbepaalde tijd. This gives me permanent resident status and allows me (according to EU law) to move to any EU country provided I can show that I have the means to support myself.
I collected the permit this morning, and the experience was such a pleasure I’m compelled to write nice things about the IND. In the bad old days I had to go to the Vreemdelingenpolitie (foreign police) at a specific time – if I missed that time I had to wait for a new appointment. Given that I travel for work from time to time I was often without any evidence of my residence status for months. The waiting room was always overcrowded – built for 15 and trying to hold 40. The police officer handing you the document was often a bit surly – making me think that foreigner duty was something of a punishment.
So today I was prepared, I took a book and a bottle of water and off I went. It was a revelation, the room was spacious and light, with plenty of seating and a tv set up in one section, there were booths set up to give you some privacy when you did speak to an immigration officer. A queueing system has been introduced so you get a number, and when the number is on the board it’s your turn – you can estimate how long it will take. The guy I saw was pleasant, apologised for needing to take a call while I was there. I spoke Dutch with him, but I’d heard him speaking English with previous clients, including very slow and patient English with a Japanese couple.
All that and the fee has dropped since my last visit. There are still rules in place that I don’t agree with (partners of Dutch citizens have to speak Dutch before they get here, partners of EU citizens don’t), and there attitudes in some corners of the government that are frankly racist. But – after years of complaining about IND it’s nice to have a positive story.
Now I’m trying to think of a suitably Dutch way to celebrate my new residence status