Wednesday 25 May 2022

Long-distance lovers whose partners are Dutch residents ‘excluded’ from sweetheart visa

Long-distance lovers Maud and Kevin campaigned and qualify for sweetheart visas Photo: Maud van Leeuwen

Members of the ‘love is not tourism’ campaign group have written to the Dutch justice minister asking why only Dutch and EU residents are allowed visits from a non-EU partner.

After a campaign in July, including questions from MPs, Ferd Grapperhaus allowed ‘sweetheart visas’ for long distance couples who would otherwise be unable to reunite due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

But, despite an appeal from the European Commission earlier this month, encouraging ‘all EU countries to allow the entry of unmarried partners of EU citizens and residents into the EU without a delay’, the Netherlands will not allow entry to partners of legal residents. According to full guidelines now published, visas for people with a relationship of more than three months are only valid for people who are Dutch or nationals of an EEA European country or Switzerland. This would currently not include Britain after it leaves the EU.

Anna-Louise Walton, an American citizen who is in a relationship with a man who has been a legal resident of The Netherlands for 18 years and lives in The Hague, told that they are ‘shocked at devastated’.

‘Finland, Germany and Denmark all explicitly state that partners of both citizens and legal residents can enter, and to the best of my knowledge Switzerland, Norway, and Austria also allow partners of residents to enter (they don’t explicitly mention citizenship as a requirement),’ she said via email.

‘I am disappointed and perplexed as to why the Netherlands has put this requirement in place. Because [my partner] was born on a different continent, does that mean his 18 years of living, working, and paying taxes in the Netherlands are less of a contribution to Dutch society than those of a European citizen? Sadly it seems that many of us who were fighting to be reunited with our partners were left out of the Dutch solution.’

Walton, who has been lobbying the justice minister and other MPs with her partner, said there are ‘numerous’ others in a Twitter group who are in the same situation. has contacted the IND immigration service for a response.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.