In this section, we will explain the process of applying for asylum in the Netherlands.
In many countries, being LGBT is illegal and punishable by prison or worse. In The Netherlands, homosexuality is legal and the state does not discriminate based on sexual identity. The Netherlands may grant asylum to people who flee prosecution based on their sexual orientation or identity.
Nobody can guarantee you that you will be granted asylum with certainty. Yet if you can make it plausible that you are an LGBT person and risk being persecuted in your home country, you will be given a fair shot at proving this to the Dutch government which may grant you asylum. Of course, it is not easy to prove one’s sexuality to others. But it is very important to be open about this topic during the asylum procedure. Do not be shy; tell the authorities from the very beginning why you apply for asylum and how that is related to your sexual identity!
The asylum procedure is carried out by two agencies of the Dutch state:
The IND (Immigration & Naturalization Service) is the agency which at the end of the procedure will decide if an asylum seeker gets granted the status of recognized refugee.
The COA (Central Residence Administration) is the agency in charge of housing and processing the applicants during the asylum procedure.
How to apply?
1) You must report to the Aliens Police in a place called Ter Apel. You can get there by train and bus. You can tell any police officer in the whole country that you want to go to Ter Apel to apply for asylum. Those police officers can help you getting there. They can provide you with directions and a transport ticket.
2) Once you have arrived at the COA location in Ter Apel, you hand in your documents (passport, diplomas, tickets etc.). The people working there will want to know who you are, so they will take a photo of you, scan your fingerprints, and search your belongings.
3) In the week that follows, you can rest. You will also have an appointment with a lawyer and a nurse.
4) Now comes the serious part: the general asylum procedure. There will be two interviews conducted by the IND. In the first interview, you give information about your background: your identity, nationality, and travel route. The second interview will be more in-depth. It will concern the reasons for your asylum application. This is the part where you have to convince the IND that you deserve protection by the Dutch state. It is important to tell your story, to be open about your past, and to describe how your sexual identity leads you to fear for persecution in your home country.
5) After the second interview, the IND will decide whether they grant you asylum or not.
The application procedure takes between a few weeks up to several months. During this period, you will have legal counsel from a lawyer.
If you get granted asylum, the Dutch government will give you a temporary residence permit, help you with housing, and provide you with a mandatory integration course and Dutch language lessons. If you pass those courses, you can get an unlimited residence permit and perhaps acquire the Dutch nationality after several years.
If your asylum application was unsuccessful and even appealing a negative decision by the IND did not change the outcome, you will be sent back to the country where you’re from.
Integration & Naturalization Service
Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers
VWN. They are an NGO and help asylum seekers in the Netherlands.
COC. This is the largest Dutch LGBT organization.