Lower court judges have ruled that the cabinet can order a man from Tanzania, who arrived in the Netherlands with refugees from Ukraine, to be sent back to his home country.
The government has told all third-country nationals who were living in Ukraine they must leave the country by September 4, unless they formally apply for asylum.
Until now, third-country nationals who came to the Netherlands from Ukraine have had the same rights as Ukrainians.
By the end of June, 500 of the 2,300 third-party nationals from Ukraine in the Netherlands had applied for asylum.
The court in Rotterdam said the government can decide for itself what regulations should cover third-country nationals if they are not covered by EU directives. EU directives state that the person should be either stateless or have a permanent residency permit.
The Tanzanian man had a temporary permit to live in Ukraine which expired in October 2022.
Immigration lawyer Wil Eikelboom, who was involved in the case, said he would be appealing against the verdict. “If you bring a group of people under the protection of European law, you cannot then remove it,” he told broadcaster NOS.
“We will only have clarity when the Council of State has looked at it,” he said. “And that will only happen when there are more of these cases, but not before September 4.”
Refugee agency Vluchtelingenwerk says there are 11 similar cases pending. “If local authorities have to evict third-country nationals from accommodation when there is still a legal option open to them to say, then you have a recipe for chaos,” the organisation said.
By July 70 third-country nationals had signed up for the financial package to go home and several dozen have left already. But most want to stay in the Netherlands and are planning legal action against having their rights removed.
Immigration minister, Eric van der Burg, has said that many of the people with a temporary visa to work or study in Ukraine can return to their home countries. And those who fear persecution can always apply for asylum in the Netherlands, he said.
They will then have to report to Ter Apel, start the asylum process in the Netherlands and move into refugee accommodation.
Most of those who have been told to leave the Netherlands come from Nigeria, followed by Morocco, Algeria, Turkmenistan and India, NOS said. Around 100 come from Syria and Yemen.
Shima Sandi from Iran, who was on the verge of starting a career as a dentist in Ukraine, told Nieuwsuur earlier this year that people like her would never have left Ukraine if it had not been for the invasion.
“We considered it our second home,” she said. “We had a life and a future there.”
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