More than 500 immigrants and refugees have been fined for not passing integration exams within three years of their arrival, Trouw reported on Wednesday.
People who don’t pass the tests, which include language and knowledge of Dutch society, can be fined up to €1,250.
However, Dorine Manson, director of refugee organisation Vluchtelingenwerk, told Radio 1 that not everyone who has been fined is to blame for failing to pass the integration programme.
Some people have to wait three months before they can take a test and then a further month for the results, pushing them over the three-year limit, she said.
In particular, there is a lack of good information about the various options, Manson said. ‘And if there is information, it is in Dutch,’ she pointed out.
Since 2013, new arrivals have had to organize their own integration programme and can borrow up to €10,000 to pay for lessons. Refugees who pass within three years don’t have to pay back the loan.
In the old system, local councils organised integration courses and new arrivals had 3.5 years to complete the process.
Since the switch was made the pass rate within three years has halved to 39%, according to a report by the national audit office in January.
A spokesman for the social affairs ministry told NOS that people are warned by letter if they risk a fine and have plenty of opportunities to raise problems and explain why they have not completed the integration programme.