Most Syrian asylum seekers have housing

© Hollandse Hoogte
The majority of asylum seekers from Syria and Eritrea who arrived in the Netherlands between 2014 and mid-year 2016 have obtained a residence permit. In addition, most Syrians have been allocated housing in a municipality, whereas Eritrean asylum seekers have found it harder to obtain housing. After one and a half years, the vast majority of both groups still depend on income support. This is shown by new figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) as part of a study on asylum migrants arriving since 2014, which is commissioned by the ministries of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW), Security and Justice (VenJ), Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and Public Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS).

It is the first time that individual asylum seekers’ procedures can be followed from the moment they are admitted to a reception centre to the steps they take after obtaining their residence permit. In the CBS report ‘From reception to integration. Cohort study on recent asylum migrants’ (Dutch only) this has been done for all 92 thousand asylum seekers who were admitted to a reception centre of the Dutch ‘Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers’ (COA) between January 2014 and July 2016. This news release focuses on the two largest groups, the Syrians (46 thousand) and the Eritreans (13 thousand).

Status of asylum seekers admitted to reception centres in 2014
 Departed/unknownCOA and no residence permitCOA and residence permitHousing in municipality
after 3 months0.951.839.47.9
after 6 months3.4863.924.7
after 12 months4.91.623.170.4
after 18 months5.50.63.690.2
after 3 months0.7889.81.5
after 6 months2.316.476.54.7
after 12 months4.12.84845.1
after 18 months4.61.61974.8

Faster housing allocation for Syrians than for Eritreans

In 2014, COA reception centres accommodated altogether 13.3 thousand Syrian and 3.9 thousand Eritrean asylum seekers. Within six months, 80 percent had been granted Dutch residence permits; this had become 94 percent for both groups after 18 months. However, Syrian holders of a residence permit proceed to housing in a municipality faster than Eritreans. After six months, one-quarter of Syrian permit holders had moved to a place of their own in a Dutch municipality, going up to 90 percent after 18 months. For the Eritrean asylum migrants it took more time, with 75 percent obtaining a place to live within 18 months. Single persons usually need to wait longer than families to be housed, and asylum seekers from Eritrea are more often single and without family than those from Syria.

Family reunion for three in ten Syrian asylum seekers

Family reunion is most common among the Syrian group. Three out of ten Syrian asylum seekers who were part of the influx in 2014 had brought one or more family members to the Netherlands within twelve months upon arrival. These usually arrive as following family members of an asylum seeker with a residence permit, based on a special regulation.
Family reunion is considerably less common for the Eritrean asylum seekers at 3 percent. As indicated in a Letter to the Lower House of Parliament, this is because official documents giving evidence of family ties are often lacking, so applications are rejected.

Family situation of asylum seekers arriving in 2014, 12 months later
No change64.592.7
Immigration of
family member(s)
Other immigration
Birth of a child
in the Netherlands

Since so many Syrians have arranged for their families to join them, the number of asylum migrants from Syria has nearly doubled in twelve months’ time: in 2014 nearly 11 thousand Syrian asylum seekers (not including following family members) were admitted to reception centres in the Netherlands and twelve months later, this group had increased in size to more than 20 thousand persons due to family reunion and the birth of children (i.e. not due to new first asylum applications).

Most still depend on benefits after 18 months

One and a half years after obtaining a residence permit in 2014, more than 90 percent of Eritreans and Syrians between the ages of 18 and 64 years are claiming social welfare. Most of them still reside in a reception centre until a few months after their residence permit is granted and receive a living allowance instead of social welfare. They only qualify for social welfare when housing is allocated to them in a municipality.

The labour participation rate among the Eritrean and Syrian asylum migrants who arrived in 2014 is very low: after 18 months, less than 5 percent are in employment. The low labour participation rate and high benefit dependency at 18 months after receiving a residence permit are related to the focus on the compulsory civic integration (inburgering) into Dutch society.
For virtually all permit holders aged 18 and over who obtained a residence permit in 2014, the civic integration procedure has started. As of 1 October 2015, 0.5 percent had passed the civic integration exam.