ISTANBUL – Any excitement among Turks who plan to move to the Netherlands after two legal verdicts challenged immigration rules? None whatsoever. The embassy and the consulate in Turkey only got a handful of phone calls asking about the verdicts and their implications, while the Turks and their Dutch partners who are affected don’t even bat an eyelid. Ismail (29), married for 6 months to Dutch Tanja: “We have been aiming at doing the language and culture test for a few months now and we will not get ourselves distracted by all sorts of legal or political decisions.”
In the meantime, Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin announced he will appeal against both judicial verdicts. The first verdict was last week, in the case of a Moroccan woman who couldn’t manage to pass the language and culture test before boarding a plane to Holland, as the rules require, and the judge decided that she could take the test in the Netherlands. This week another verdict followed in the case of a Dutch-Sri Lankan couple, who, the judge decided, don’t need to comply with the income requirement of 120% of minimum wages for people who want to form a family.
Suspicion is the main reaction of the people who might have benefited from the verdicts. Sonja (27), married to Polat: “I called the immigration office to ask if the verdict would have consequences for us, but for the time being it has not. I expected nothing else, because these kinds of rules don’t change just like that.” Polat (31), on a break from his fifteen hour working day in the Turkish tourist industry: “It’s just better to make your own plans and stick to them. Just follow the existing rules, the rules as they are, that’s the best, because otherwise you just make things more difficult for yourself. I study and practice Dutch every day. After work, at night between 2 and 3, I study from a book, and in the daytime I try to practice with Dutch tourists on holiday here. I wanted to take my exam in August, but I don’t feel I’m ready for it. Maybe it’s better to postpone it until I have a bit more time to study. No, I don’t intend to wait and see if the rules change. The exam is not that big of a problem.”
Ediz (35) and Ruud (45) too are not overly excited about possible changes in the law. “We don’t have much hope we can ever be together”, says Ruud also speaking for his boyfriend. Ruud and Ediz have been in a relationship for two years now, and so far Ediz has not managed to grasp any Dutch. Studying by himself hasn’t worked, he can’t afford private lessons, and there is no Dutch course in Izmir, where he lives. “I see a bit of light because of the verdict on the language and culture test, but I’m also afraid to get my hopes up too high”, says Ruud. “The chance that going to Holland will get easier is, of course, very small. And I can not move to Turkey. Ediz has to take care of his sick parents since he is the only unmarried child, so he has no income. And for me it’s not easy to find a job there as a male nurse. For us, the only hope is that Ediz can learn the Dutch language and culture in Holland without first having to do a test in Turkey. But I’m afraid some judge or politician will prevent that from ever happening.”
(written for news agency ANP)