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Civic Integration Examination

As of 15 March 2006, certain categories of aliens seeking to settle in the Netherlands who need an authorisation for temporary stay (MVV) to enter the country will have to take an integration test before coming to the Netherlands. This mainly concerns people who want to marry someone in the Netherlands or join family members. Religious leaders (such as imams or other clergy) coming to work in the Netherlands will also have to take the examination.

This requirement does not apply to MVV applications submitted to a Dutch mission or to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) in the Netherlands (through the advisory procedure) before 15 March 2006. Applications to take the civic integration examination can only be made as of that date.

What is the civic integration examination?

It is a test that an applicant must take at the Dutch embassy or consulate in his/her country of residence before travelling to the Netherlands. People applying for an MVV must first prove that they have passed the examination. You need an MVV to apply for a residence permit which is necessary for a stay of over three months in the Netherlands. The civic integration examination is an oral test given in Dutch. Candidates will be tested on their knowledge of Dutch society and their command of the Dutch language. Anyone who prepares properly should be able to pass the examination.

It is not possible to take the examination at honorary consulates, nor are candidates who pass the examination able to submit an MVV application for family reunification/formation at honorary consulates.

Before arranging with the embassy to take the civic integration examination you have to pay the examination fee (350) into the bank account of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands. To start this procedure, you first need to fill in the application form, which will be available here starting 15 March 2006.

To find out whether you have to take the civic integration examination, go to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service website, http://www.ind.nl/EN/index.asp, and click on Residence Wizard: planning to stay in the Netherlands.

If you want to know more about the examination, you can order an information leaflet on http://www.ind.nl/EN/index.asp and click on Brochures/forms

The embassy cannot provide teaching material or preparation material for the examination. If you want to know more about the examination and how to prepare for it, go to http://www.naarnederland.nl .

Starting December 2007: higher pass level for spoken Dutch in civic integration test

On 1 December 2007, changes are expected to be made to the Spoken Dutch test that prospective immigrants have to take under the Civic Integration Abroad Act. Research conducted by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) shows that the current proficiency levels required to pass the test are below the A1-minus level of the Common European Framework of Reference on which they are based.

The test itself will not change, but the method of grading will. The level required to pass will remain A1-minus. The pass level is expected to be raised from 1 December 2007 by requiring candidates to give a higher proportion of correct answers.

At the request of the House of Representatives, the minister is currently commissioning further research to ensure that the new pass level is appropriate. If this research contradicts the TNOs findings, the pass level will have to be examined yet again. This may not be done by 1 December 2007. But for the time being, it remains the target date.

Important Dates

  • The new grading system for the Spoken Dutch test will become effective on 1 December 2007.

  • Candidates who enrol for the test and pay the fee before 15 September 2007 will have the guarantee of being able to take the test before the pass level is raised.

  • Candidates who enrol or pay after 15 September 2007 will not have this guarantee. They will be able to take the test as places become available.

  • The test fee must be received by Ministry of Foreign Affairs by 15 September 2007 at the latest. Candidates should therefore take account of the time required by the bank to process payment.

  • As soon as they have received their confirmation of payment, candidates must contact the Netherlands embassy or consulate-general in time to make an appointment to take the examination

  • Candidates who ask for their test date to be postponed will not have the guarantee of being able to take the test before the pass level is raised.

Frequently Asked Questions about Civic Integration 

The Act

What are the implications of the Civic Integration Abroad Act (Wet inburgering in het buitenland)?

The Act entered into force on 15 March 2006 and sets an additional condition for obtaining a regular temporary residence permit, namely that people must first have a basic knowledge of the Dutch language and Dutch society before they come to the Netherlands. This basic knowledge will be tested by taking an examination, the Basic Civic Integration Examination, in their country of residence.

The entry requirement only applies to those persons who:

1. must have an authorisation for temporary stay (known as MVV) to enter the Netherlands, and

2. are obliged as newcomer, under the terms of the Civic Integration for Newcomers Act (Wet inburgering nieuwkomers), to participate in a civic integration programme on arrival in the Netherlands.

Why this Act?

The act is the result of the Dutch Cabinets Outline Agreement dated 16 May 2003, which reads: Any person who wishes to settle permanently in the Netherlands must actively take part in society, learn Dutch, be aware of Dutch values and abide by the rules.

What is the object of the Act?

Foreign nationals who voluntarily choose to permanently settle in the Netherlands are expected to prepare themselves abroad for their arrival in the Netherlands. As integration in Dutch society is a lengthy process, it is important that newcomers have a basic command of Dutch and some idea of the society they will be joining before their arrival in the Netherlands. This will help them integrate better after their arrival in the Netherlands.

At which groups is the Act targeted?

The obligation to take the Basic Civic Integration Examination before coming to the Netherlands applies to persons aged between 16 and 65 years who:

1. must have an MVV to enter the Netherlands, and

2. are obliged as newcomer, under the terms of the Civic Integration for Newcomers Act, to participate in a civic integration programme on arrival in the Netherlands.

It primarily concerns people who want to form a family (by marriage for example) with someone in the Netherlands or who want to join family members already living in the Netherlands.

Religious Leaders

Religious leaders coming to the Netherlands for the purpose of employment will also have to take the Basic Civic Integration Examination.

Young people who have to attend school

The Civic Integration for Newcomers Act applies to young people aged 17 years or over and therefore, they will also have to take the Basic Civic Integration Examination. Young people aged 16 years will only have to take the Basic Civic Integration Examination if they are not obliged to attend school full time.

(for more information on compulsory education, please see the website of Postbus 51: http://www.postbus51.nl/index.cfm?vid=CA0B904D-C295-519D-13B9899F4A6E32E8)

The Civic Integration for Newcomers Act does not apply to foreign nationals who only want to come to the Netherlands temporarily, such as students, au pairs and work migrants, for example. Therefore, the act does not apply to them. They do not need to take the Basic Civic Integration Examination in their country of origin.

Are exemptions granted?

The following groups of people are exempted from taking the Basic Civic Integration Examination (Dutch Language test and Knowledge of Dutch Society test) (Section 17 (1) of the Aliens Act 2000 (Vreemdelingenwet 2000).

  • persons of Australian, Belgian, Canadian, Cypriot, German, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, French, Greek, British, Hungarian, Irish, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Liechtenstein, Lithuanian, Luxemburg, Maltese, Monegasque, New Zealand, Norwegian, Austrian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovakian, Slovenian, Spanish, Czech, Vatican, American, Swedish or Swiss nationality;

  • persons of Surinamese nationality who have completed a minimum of primary education in the Dutch language in Suriname or the Netherlands, and can show this by means of written proof (certificate, testimonial) issued and authenticated by the Surinamese Ministry of Education and Public Development;

  • persons who are coming to the Netherlands for a temporary reason, such as study, au pair work, exchange or medical treatment;

  • persons with a work permit, self-employed persons and knowledge migrants;

  • family members of a person in possession of an asylum residence permit.

These categories of foreign nationals will not therefore have to take a Basic Civic Integration Examination. However, once in the Netherlands, they will have to follow (the rest of) the civic integration programme if they are newcomers as defined in the Civic Integration for Newcomers Act.

What does the Act mean for asylum migrants and their family members?

The Act will not affect the position of asylum migrants. Anyone who qualifies for a temporary residence permit on the grounds of being an asylum migrant does not need an authorisation for temporary stay (MVV). The spouse, partner and child of the asylum migrant who has been admitted need not take the Basic Civic Integration Examination in their country of origin if they wish to come to the Netherlands for the purpose of family reunification (this is laid down in Section 29 (1) under e and f of the Aliens Act 2000).

Once asylum seekers have been admitted to the Netherlands, they will have to follow (the rest of) the civic integration programme in the Netherlands.

Does this Act also apply to Dutch citizens who were born outside the Netherlands (such as, for example, people from the Antilles)?

No, the Act does not apply to these people. Therefore, they do not need to take the Basic Civic Integration Examination, as the Aliens Act 2000 does not apply to them.

The Basic Civic Integration Examination

What is the aim of the Basic Civic Integration Examination?

The Basic Civic Integration Examination aims to verify whether people who wish to qualify for an MVV meet the requirements of command of the Dutch language and knowledge of Dutch society, as has been laid down in the Aliens Act. Listening and speaking skills in the Dutch language and knowledge of Dutch society will be tested in the Basic Civic Integration Examination.

The examination programme has been derived from the subject matter described in the Advice on the Level of the Civic Integration Examination Abroad of the Standards Civic Integration Requirements Advisory Committee (Civic Integration Tested, Franssen Advisory Committee, February 2004).

Which tests must be taken?

The Basic Civic Integration Examination consists of two parts:

1. Knowledge of the Dutch Language, and

2. Knowledge of Dutch Society.

Knowledge of the Dutch Language

In the Dutch language test, the required basic level will be level A1- of the Common European Framework for Modern Languages. Only oral skills (listening and speaking skills) will be tested, which means that illiterate people will also be able to take the examination. A command of the Dutch language at level A1- means that the examination candidate understands a limited number of familiar everyday words and basic sentences that relate to his/her immediate personal life and to the bare necessities of life; and only in direct contact with Dutch speakers who are used to conversing with foreign speakers, when they speak slowly and clearly. The examination candidate can also express himself/herself to a very limited degree, in fact only with the assistance of isolated words and standard formulas (Formulaic Speech), in a small number of areas that are related to his/her immediate personal life.

The listening and speaking skills part of the examination includes responding to tasks and answering questions by means of which a measurement can be taken of the extent to which examination candidates can understand Dutch spoken at a normal rate and are able to respond to this intelligibly and at a normal rate of conversation.

This part of the examination contains a total of 50 items. The items are randomly selected per type of task from a large item bank, in such a way that each examination candidate is presented with a different set of items. The listening and speaking skills part of the examination consists of 5 tasks.

1. Repeating sentences

The examination candidate hears separate sentences, spoken at a normal rate of speech and has to repeat these sentences. The sentences vary in length from 3 to 15 words. The sentences presented become increasingly more difficult.

2. Answering short questions

The examination candidate hears short questions, spoken at a normal rate of speech, and answers the questions with a single word or short sentence. The questions are about basic information. The examination candidate does not need to have any specific knowledge about Dutch culture, history or other themes in order to answer the questions.

3. Repeating sentences

This part of the examination is the same as the first task: sentences - new ones - will again be presented and will have to be repeated.

4. Opposites

The examination candidate hears a word and responds by saying a word with an opposite meaning.

5. Retelling stories

The examination candidate hears two short stories told at normal rate of speech and has to retell these short stories as well as possible.

The answers given will be assessed for pronunciation, fluency, sentence construction and vocabulary.

Knowledge of Dutch Society

Besides testing the Dutch language, the government feels that knowledge of Dutch society should also be tested. This part of the basic examination may not require a better command of Dutch than that required for the language examination. This means that the examination candidate must have a command of oral skills at level A1-. The Knowledge of Dutch Society part of the examination includes 30 questions that correspond to images selected from the film Coming to the Netherlands. The questions assume that examination candidates have seen the film Coming to the Netherlands (in their own language and/or in Dutch) and that they are able to answers questions via the telephone. The questions cover seven subjects from the film Coming to the Netherlands:

geography and living in the Netherlands; history; constitution, democracy and legislation; the Dutch language; parenting and education; health care; work and income. These are short questions, spoken at a slow rate of speech and must be answered with a single word or phrase. Three types of questions are asked:

  • yes / no questions;

  • open questions with a closed, unambiguous answer;

  • closed questions with two answer options.

How can I register to take the Basic Civic Integration Examination?

You can register to take the examination via the website of the IND (www.ind.nl) as follows:

  • Go to the registration form via the website of the IND. You or your sponsor can fill in this form.

  • A message, stating the payment details and a unique identification number, will be automatically sent to the email address that you or your sponsor provided.

  • You or your sponsor will transfer the examination fee (350) to the bank account of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Please note: it is important to quote the payment identification number and the name of the person who is going to take the basic examination.

  • Once payment has been received, you will receive at the email address provided a message acknowledging receipt of the payment and informing you that you can contact the Dutch representation in the country in which the examination has to be taken, in order to make an appointment to take the examination.

You may also register in writing. You can request a registration form from the IND (0900-1234561). This procedure does, however, take longer than the digital procedure.

Where will the basic examination be held?

The basic examination will be held at the Dutch embassy or consulate general abroad. If there is no Dutch embassy or consulate general in your country of continuous residence, then the examination will be held at the nearest Dutch representation in a neighbouring country.

What is the procedure at the embassy/consulate general?

Once you or your sponsor have transferred the examination fee in accordance with the applicable procedure and have received acknowledgement of receipt of this payment, you can contact the Dutch representation to make an appointment. If the payment has not yet been made or only partial payment has been made, you will not be given an appointment.

You will report to the Dutch representation at the agreed date and time. If you are unable to be present at the agreed date and time, you must timely notify the embassy or consulate general and you can make a new appointment. If you fail to arrive at the agreed time, the embassy staff member will determine whether you can still take the examination or will have to make a new appointment.

The staff member will check that you have not brought to the examination aids, such as for example a mobile telephone, which you are not permitted to use during the examination. You will be asked to temporarily hand in your personal belongings.

Then the staff member will verify the validity of your proof of identity and you will be registered. Your personal data will be entered into the computer and a digital photograph and your fingerprints will be taken. After this registration, you can start the examination.

The staff member will give you instructions about the procedure to be followed during the examination and about the examination itself. Once the staff member has made sure that you have understood these instructions, you will start the Knowledge of Dutch Society part of the examination.

After completion of this part, you will have a short break.

Then you will start the Knowledge of the Dutch Language part of the examination.

After completion of the examination, the staff member will inform you when and how the results of the test will be announced.

How will I be examined?

You will be examined via a telephone that has a direct connection with a computer. You must respond in the correct manner to the questions asked by the computer.

The language test will take approximately 15 minutes.

The test on knowledge of Dutch society will also take approximately 15 minutes.

How will I know whether I have passed?

The results of the language test and the test on knowledge of Dutch society will be assessed by the computer system. If a pass is obtained for both parts of the basic examination, you will have passed. The embassy will inform you of the test results. You may submit an application for an MVV as soon as you have been informed that you have passed the basic examination. All other requirements for an MVV will, of course, have to have been met.

Which language is used in the basic examination?

Both parts of the examination, Dutch Language and Knowledge of Dutch Society, will be examined in Dutch. The part of the examination concerning Knowledge of Dutch Society will not require a better command of Dutch than that required for the language test.

Can I take the examination again?

You can take the basic examination as often as is necessary. However, you will have to fill in a new application form each time and pay the examination fee of 350.

How long will a basic examination pass be valid?

A pass will be valid for 1 year. You must therefore submit an application for an MVV within 1 year after passing the examination.

How much will the Basic Civic Integration Examination cost?

The Basic Civic Integration Examination will cost 350.

When should the basic examination be taken, before or after applying for an MVV?

An application for an MVV can be rejected if the person who wants to come to the Netherlands is unable to produce examination results showing that he/she has gained the necessary basic knowledge of the Dutch language and Dutch society abroad. You are therefore advised to first pass the Basic Civic Integration Examination before applying for an MVV.

Preparing for the Basic Examination

Will the government provide courses?

No. It will be up to you to decide how you want to prepare for the Basic Civic Integration Examination. The government does not set any rules and will not provide courses. An education pack has been compiled in order to prepare you for the examination. An education pack costing 63.90 can be purchased from either Dutch bookshops or via Internet bookshops. Your sponsor in the Netherlands can buy this pack and send it to you. The pack consists of:

  • a film about the Netherlands on DVD or video;

  • a booklet with images from the film,

  • a CD containing all the questions that may come up during the Knowledge of Dutch Society part of the examination, and

  • three practice Dutch language tests with which to practise at home.

  • a manual explaining how to use the pack.

You can use this education pack to prepare yourself for the Basic Civic Integration Examination.

In addition to this, there is a lot of teaching material available in the Netherlands, some of which can also be used independently by examination candidates. The person who wants you to come to the Netherlands can send you this teaching material.

How can I - or my partner - best prepare for the examination?

Preparing for the Knowledge of Dutch Language part of the examination

  • Various books for learning Dutch can be purchased both in bookstores and on the Internet. Many of these include cassettes or CDs that you can use to practise with. You can use these for example to listen to Dutch sentences or do pronunciation exercises.

  • You will be examined via the telephone. You can practise by speaking Dutch on the telephone with your partner or with someone else who speaks Dutch. If you do not understand the person you are talking to, ask him/her to repeat what he/she has said. Also ask him/her to correct your pronunciation of Dutch.

  • You can familiarise yourself with the sound of the Dutch language by watching and listening to Dutch language TV, films or songs on video, DVD or CD. This will help you to listen carefully in Dutch and to pronounce Dutch properly.

  • Watching and listening to the Dutch version of the film Coming to the Netherlands (this film is included in the education pack) will also help. So will practising the 100 questions for the Knowledge of Dutch Society part of the examination.

  • Are you well prepared? Use the TIN codes in the education pack to sit the three Knowledge of the Dutch Language practice tests. By doing this, you will familiarise yourself with the examination.

  • Preparing for the Knowledge of Dutch Society part of the examination

  • You can prepare yourself for this examination by using the materials provided in the education pack. Watch the film in your own language for as often as is necessary.

  • Afterwards, watch the film again, but this time in the Dutch language.

  • Watch the film per theme in your own language and then in the Dutch language.

  • Practise answering the questions from the photo booklet on each of the themes. Listen to the CD while at the same time reading the written questions and answers.

  • Listen to the questions on CD. Repeat the answers.

  • Put the paper to one side! (In the examination, you will only be given one photo booklet and will only hear the questions. You will not be given any written questions.)

  • Practise the questions and answers as often as possible and as often as you need (practising once will not be enough. You must practise at least 4 times until you are able to pronounce all of the answers properly).

  • Practise answering the questions by mixing them up, not just in the order given.

  • Speak aloud when practising, slowly and clearly.

  • Try to practise a lot using the telephone either with your partner or someone else who speaks Dutch; focus on your pronunciation, speak clearly and not too softly.

  • Also practise the start of the examination. Watch the last part of the film again the examination procedure. You will hear the following Say the name of the city and country where you are now". You say the name of your city and country.

  • Watch the film again several times in the Dutch language. Now that you are familiar with the questions, you will understand far more. This also enables you to learn many of the words you will need for the language test.

How much time will I need to prepare myself well for the examination?

You will need about 50 -75 hours to prepare for the Knowledge of Dutch Society part of the examination.

You will need about 250-300 hours to prepare for the Dutch Language part of the examination.

The more you practise speaking Dutch with your sponsor, the quicker it will go.

What is the level of the examination?

A command of the Dutch language at level A1- means that the examination candidate understands a limited number of familiar words and basic sentences that relate to his/her immediate personal life and to the bare necessities of life; and only in direct contact with Dutch speakers who are used to conversing with foreign speakers, when they speak slowly and clearly. The examination candidate can also express himself/herself to a very limited degree, in fact only with the assistance of isolated words and standard formulas (Formulaic Speech), in a small number of areas that are related to his/her immediate personal life.

Is this level not too high?

The level of the examination is reasonable and attainable.

Attaining the A1- level will require a great effort on your part.

If you pass the examination, you will demonstrate that you are prepared, motivated and ready to settle in Dutch society. Once you are in the Netherlands the knowledge you have acquired will help you to get off to a good start in settling down and integrating in the Netherlands.

For more information on the level of the examination, please see the report of the Standards Civic Integration Requirements Advisory Committee, Advice on the Level of the Civic Integration Examination Abroad.

Where can I buy the education pack? What does it cost?

You can buy the education pack in registered bookshops and Internet bookshops. The pack costs Euro 63.90. You can also order separately 3 practise Dutch language tests.

http://www.thiememeulenhoff.nl/documentenservice/pagina.asp?pagkey=52132

Is the DVD suitable for all types of DVD player and VCD player in each country?

Yes, the DVDs in the education pack can be used throughout the world. Each education pack contains several DVDs that can be used on both the NTSC and the PAL/SECAM system.

You can select the DVD that is suitable for you or your partner.

The manual for your appliance contains more information on the system requirements. For more information, see www.naarnederland.nl;

(http://www.thiememeulenhoff.nl/documentenservice/pagina.asp?pagkey=52139) and

(http://www.thiememeulenhoff.nl/documentenservice/pagina.asp?pagkey=52183)

Are the books in the education pack also available in different languages?

No, each pack contains a manual in all the languages in which the film is available.

Each education pack also contains a photo booklet containing images but no text. You can use this photo booklet to prepare for the Knowledge of Dutch Society part of the examination.

For more information on the contents of the pack, see www.naarnederland.nl

(http://www.thiememeulenhoff.nl/documentenservice/pagina.asp?pagkey=52130)

Do I need a computer to use the practise tests in the education pack?

No, you will not need a computer to be able to practise but you will need a telephone. You connect with the computer via the telephone line. More information can be found in the manual for the pack.

You will need a computer with an Internet connection to request the score of your practice test. If you do not have a computer, you can use a computer in public facilities, an Internet cafe or at the home of family or acquaintances.

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