Integrate: how?

To integrate, you must learn Dutch. You must then learn how the Dutch people live and work. This is required by the government as indicated in the Civic Integration Act. You take the integration exams after you have learned enough Dutch.

If you settle in the Netherlands, you have a duty to integrate and must take a civic integration exam. Once you have done so, you will be able to take training courses and you will have a better chance of finding work.
Newcomers must know, for example:

  • how to find work;
  • how to make a hospital appointment;
  • what kinds of school are available (if they have children).

Some newcomers are not required to take the civic integration exam, for example if they have a mental or physical disability.

The ‘Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs‘ of the Dutch Government will help you and provide you with the information needed to let you integrate.

You have 3 years to integrate. This is called the integration period. You must pass the integration exam within this period of time. You will receive a letter from DUO that says when your integration period starts.

School and learning

Photo: school and learning

Going to school

You can take an integration course at a school. You will learn Dutch in the integration course. And, you will learn about living and working in the Netherlands. If you have learned enough then you can take the integration exam. Going to school is much better than learning by yourself. DUO does not have any books that you can study before the exam. DUO does have practice exams.

Choosing a school

Go to the site Blik op Werk if you want to select a school. The site has a list of good schools. Select a school from the list. This has advantages.

  • You can only borrow from DUO if you attend one of these schools. You cannot borrow money from DUO for any other school.
  • Anyone who does not complete their integration on time will be fined. The fine is lower for individuals who take their course at an approved school.

Integration exam or Dutch as a Second Language State Exam (staatsexamen NT2)

Hello

You can integrate in 2 different ways. Most people take the integration exams. Or, it is possible to take the Dutch as a Second Language State Exam (staatsexamen NT2).

Integration obligation

If you must integrate then you will receive a letter from DUO. The letter will tell you what date you became obligated to integrate. It is important whether you became obligated to integrate before or after 1 January 2015. The letter will tell you that you have 3 years to integrate (the integration period).

Integrate by taking integration exam

Most people integrate by taking the integration exam.

Were you obliged to integrate before 2015? In this case, you need to take five integration exams. You must pass all five exams. If you must integrate after 1 January 2015 then you must take six exams. The additional exam you must take is the Orientation on the Dutch Labor Market exam.

Before 2015 Starting 2015
Reading Reading
Listening Listening
Writing Writing
Speaking Speaking
Kennis Nederlandse Maatschappij (Knowledge of Dutch Society) Kennis Nederlandse Maatschappij (Knowledge of Dutch Society)
Orientation on the Dutch Labor Market

Integrate by taking the Second Language State Exam (Staatsexamen NT2)

It is also possible to integrate by taking the NT2 state exam. You take this exam when you want to study or pursue a vocational education program. Also, if you have a secondary or higher level education, you can take the NT2 state exam. In this case, you will learn Dutch at a higher level.

Were you obliged to integrate before 2015? In this case, you only have to take the Dutch as a Second Language State Exam (staatsexamen NT2). If you pass, you receive four certificates. You must exchange the certificates for the NT2 diploma. Do you have the NT2 diploma? In this case, you are integrated.
Are you obliged to integrate after 1 January 2015? In this case, in addition to taking the Dutch as a Second Language State Exam (staatsexamen NT2), you must also take another two exams. These are the Knowledge of Dutch Society exam and the Orientation on the Dutch Labor Market exam. If you pass these exams, you will receive both the NT2 diploma and the integration diploma.

Before 2015 Starting 2015
NT2 State Exam NT2 State Exam
Kennis Nederlandse Maatschappij (Knowledge of Dutch Society)
Orientation on the Dutch Labor Market

Want to know more about the Dutch as a Second Language State Exam (Staatsexamen NT2)? Then, go to the site for DUO.

Exam exemption

To integrate or not integrate?

You must integrate. However, sometimes you do not have to take the exams. For example, you may have lived in the Netherlands for a long time. Or, you may have a diploma. Or, you might not be able to pass the integration exams.

Taking the exam

If you must integrate then you will receive a letter from DUO. The letter will tell you that you are obligated to integrate. The letter tells you how much time you have to integrate (integration period). You must pass your integration exam within this integration period.

Exam exemption

Sometimes, it is not necessary to take the exam. This is called an exemption. Sometimes, you only have to take one exam or not do some of the exams. This is called an exemption. It is up to you to request these exemptions.

Exemption

Do you already have a Dutch diploma? Or, are you in an academic program and studying it in Dutch? In this case, you may not have to take one or more exams. Do you want an exemption? In this case, submit the exemption form. DUO will decide whether you receive an exemption. The form is located below.

Request exemption from the integration obligation (opens in a new window) (106KB, PDF)

Exemption from the integration obligation

Do you want an exemption from your obligation to integrate? This is only possible six months before the deadline for your obligation to integrate.

There are three different ways to receive an exemption.

  1. You receive an exemption because you have done enough to integrate. This is called demonstrable proof of effort.
  2. You receive an exemption because you are sufficiently well integrated.
  3. You receive an exemption because of your medical circumstances.

1. Demonstrable proof of effort

There are two ways to receive an exemption because of demonstrable proof of effort. You must satisfy the conditions.

  • Have you taken an integration course ? Then you must satisfy the following two conditions.
    1. You have completed at least 600 hours of an integration course. Only certain schools are allowed. A school listed on the website Blik op Werk is acceptable.
    2. You tried four or more times to pass the exams (at Language Level A2).
  • Have you taken an literacy course ? Then you must satisfy the following two conditions.
    1. You have completed at least 600 hours of a literacy course. Only certain schools are allowed. A school listed on the website Blik op Werk is acceptable.
    2. You can prove that you are not fluent enough in reading and writing Dutch to integrate.
    You must prove this by taking a test. You take this test at DUO.
    The test cost € 150. DUO will decide whether you may take the test. First, send the form in.

Demonstrable proof of effort exemption (opens in a new window) (150KB, PDF)

2. Demonstrable proof of being well integrated

It’s possible that you are already well integrated. Have you lived in the Netherlands for ten years and nowhere else? And, have you worked in the Netherlands for more than five years? And, are you fluent in Dutch? In this case, you may no longer need to take the integration exam. You will then receive an exemption. Send in the exemption form. You must also send in the employer statement. You must have your employer complete the employer statement at your workplace. You must first attend an appointment with DUO before you receive an exemption. This appointment costs € 90. After this appointment, DUO will decide whether you receive the exemption or not. The application form and employer statement can be found below.

Request exemption from the obligation to integrate with proof of sufficient integration (94KB, PDF)

Employer statement as specified in the Integration Act 2013 (81KB, PDF)

3. Exemption due to medical reasons

Are you unable to do an exam because you are seriously ill? Or, because you have a handicap? Then, you can request an exemption. Then, you will not have to take the integration exam. Go to the site for Argonaut.

You will receive a medical check up by a doctor from Argonaut. The check up costs money. You must pay this money to Argonaut. Then, the doctor will write a letter. The doctor will write in the letter whether you can integrate or not. You must fill in the form and mail it with the letter to DUO. DUO will decide whether you receive the exemption. The form is listed below.

Request exemption from the integration obligation due to medical or mental health reasons (opens in a new window) (86KB, PDF)

More time needed

You have three years to integrate. Do you believe you need more time? In this case, you might be able to take longer to do so.

You have done your best

Are you doing everything possible to integrate? But, you could not pass your exam to get your integration diploma in the time given? In this case, you will receive a maximum of two more years to get your diploma.
There are conditions.
–    You must have completed at least 300 hours of an integration course at an approved school. The approved schools are listed on the Blik op Werk website.
–    You took the exams, but failed two or more times.
You may request the additional time by submitting the application form listed below. You must submit the completed form at most six months before the end of your integration period. You must not submit the form any earlier as DUO will not do anything with your application.

Request extension of integration period (opens in a new window) (137KB, PDF)

Illiterate

Illiterates are people who cannot read or write. Illiterates may receive an additional two years to integrate. After taking the literacy class, they will receive a letter about this from DUO.
Has the illiterate person still not received the DUO letter eight weeks after the literacy course? In this case, he/she may themselves request an extension. This is also possible if they are taking a literacy course at a school that is not listed on the “Blik op Werk” website.

Request extension of integration period to become literate 2016 (opens in a new window) (94KB, PDF)

Illness

Are you not able to integrate on time because you were ill for more than three months? Or, was your partner or child ill for longer than three months? In this case, you may receive additional time to obtain your diploma. You may request the additional time by submitting the form below.
Submit the completed form at most six months before the end of your integration period. If you submit the form earlier that this, DUO will not do anything with your application.

Authorization to Request Medical Data (opens in new window) (132KB, PDF)

Having a child

Were you not able to integrate because you were pregnant and had a child? In this case, you may receive additional time to obtain your diploma. You may request the additional time by sending a letter or an e-mail. In the letter or e-mail, please state when your child was born.
Submit the completed form at most six months before the end of your integration period. You must not submit the form any earlier as DUO will not do anything with your application.

Not completed on time?

You had three years to integrate. That is the integration obligation. Did you not integrate on time? Then you will be fined.

If it is determined you have not done enough, you will receive a letter from DUO. The letter will tell you that you are being fined. The fine can be up to a maximum of 1,250 euro. You will then have an additional two years to obtain your integration diploma.

Does DUO not yet have all the information it needs from you? Send the information to DUO. You might not have to pay all of the fine or might not have to pay it at all. What you can do is listed below.

What can you do?

Did you obtain a diploma in Dutch? Send a copy of your diploma to DUO. Write the word “extension” on the copy. Or, submit a request for an exemption. The form is listed below.

Request exemption from the integration obligation (opens in a new window) (106KB, PDF)

Declaration from an approved school

Have you taken an integration course at a school listed on the Blik op Werk website? Send the form that you receive with the letter from DUO. On the form you will see “Declaration of participation in an integration course”. Your school must complete this form.

Being ill for a long time

Have you been ill for a long time? Or, was your partner or child ill for longer than three months? In this case, you may receive additional time to obtain your integration diploma. You may request the additional time by submitting the form below.
Authorization to Request Medical Data (opens in new window) (152KB PDF)

Authorization to Request Medical Data (opens in new window) (132KB, PDF)

Having a child

Were you pregnant and had a child during the integration period? In this case, you may receive additional time to obtain your integration diploma. Send a letter or e-mail to DUO. In the letter or e-mail, indicate when your child was born.

Other reasons

Is there another reason for not being completed on time? For example, you were in prison. In this case, you may request a phone call with DUO. You must request this phone appointment using the form you received with the letter from DUO. In the phone call, you can explain why you were not able to integrate in time. On the form, we call the phone call a “hearing” (“hoorzitting”).

Loan from DUO

Asylum migrants may borrow money for the course and the exams. It does not matter how much they earn. More: How much money can you borrow? Asylum migrants do not need to repay the loan in they integrate on time. More: Repayment

Sources and more information:
Read this factsheet for a summary of what to do to integrate in The Netherlands (available in various languages)
More information about integration obligations