The Dutch immigration service is to restart processing residency permit applications from Iranian nationals, apart from knowledge migrants in the petroleum, natural gas, and petrochemical industries, an IND spokesman confirmed to DutchNews.nl.
In June, the IND stopped processing all applications from Iranian citizens in reaction to new sanctions levelled against Iran by the EU. The move caused a great deal of disquiet and uncertainty in the Iranian community in the Netherlands.
The ban stems from a March 2012 vote in which the EU agreed to expand the existing sanction programme against Iran to include the petroleum, natural gas, and petrochemical industries. Specifically, the sanctions aim to stop any knowledge transfer from Iranians abroad to their national government in these industries.
The Netherlands interpreted the ruling to mean they should stop processing new residency and work visa applications for Iranian knowledge migrants. Although according to the foreign ministry there was no change in ordinary student applications, PhD students were also affected.
The IND itself notified some applicants via email, while others who might be affected found out through the HR departments at their workplace. Some 125 permit applications are thought to have been affected.
The Netherlands is the only EU country to have interpreted the ruling this way.
Now, however, the Netherlands is to limit the ban to Iranian knowledge migrants who work in the petroleum, natural gas, and petrochemical industries.
Lack of clarity
In addition, the IND states that the ‘…prohibition extends to key equipment and key technology in these sectors, and it is also prohibited to provide certain services with these goods and technology’, but they are not clear what that may include.
The stress and uncertainty of the situation has left many frustrated. Some Iranians have had job offers rescinded because of the problems. ‘The whole situation has been very frustrating,’ said one Iranian PhD student. ‘We left Iran because we’re unhappy with the government and now we’re being punished for their behaviour.’
Many Iranian expats in the Netherlands worry that Dutch companies will be unwilling to hire Iranians because their immigration status could be placed in jeopardy at any time. Some are looking to move to other European countries, as most aren’t placing the same restrictions on Iranians.
MEP Marietje Schaake has asked questions in the European parliament about the Dutch position.
It is not the first time Iranian nationals have been affected by tighter Dutch procedures following international sanctions.
In 2010, a court ruled the Dutch government’s ban on Iranian students taking courses which could bring them into contact with nuclear technology was illegal. Twente University went even further by closing its doors to all students from Iran, arguing it was impossible to keep them away from open lectures.
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