To victims of human trafficking who do not reside lawfully in the Netherlands, having a residence permit is a key condition for recovery. It is also a crucial factor of being able to cooperate in any criminal investigation and prosecution. Victims of human trafficking are subject to the Residence Scheme for Victims of Human Trafficking, which is carried out by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service.
Pursuant to the Aliens Act of 2000 (Section 8(k)), actual or potential victims of human trafficking are given a reflection period of up to three months during which to decide whether they wish to report to the police or otherwise cooperate in a criminal investigation or in criminal proceedings. The reflection period entails that the Immigration and Naturalisation Service will suspend the departure of the suspected victim of human trafficking from the Netherlands during this period.
Residence Scheme for Victims of Human Trafficking
Victims of human trafficking without a residence permit who report to the police may, under the Residence Scheme for Victims of Human Trafficking (included in the Aliens Act of 2000, Section 3.48, Paragraph 1(b)), be granted a temporary residence permit for the duration of the criminal investigation and proceedings. If victims are unable to cooperate in a criminal investigation due to medical restrictions or due to a serious threat or if they are minors, they may be eligible for this residence permit provided that their application is supported by a statement from the police, Royal Netherlands Marechassee (KMar) and/or a medical declaration.
Continued residence on humanitarian grounds
The residence permit under the Residence Scheme for Victims of Human Trafficking expires at the end of criminal proceedings. The victim may then submit an application for a permit of continued residence on humanitarian grounds, pursuant to Section 3.51, Paragraph 1(a), of the Aliens Act of 2000. Victims are eligible for this type of residence permit if:
- the accused has been prosecuted for human trafficking offences and proceedings have resulted in a conviction;
- the criminal trial has resulted in an acquittal, but the victim has held a residence permit under the Residence Scheme for Victims of Human Trafficking for three years or more at the time of the judgement becoming irrevocable;
- the criminal proceedings are ongoing and the victim has held a residence permit under the Residence Scheme for Victims of Human Trafficking for three years or more;
- there are exceptional, individual reasons to allow the victim to remain in the Netherlands (for example, the risk of reprisal upon return).
Initiating an asylum procedure
Victims who are unwilling or are unable to make use of the Residence Scheme for Victims of Human Trafficking and who have no lawful residence status in the Netherlands may also apply for asylum. Any asylum seeker is entitled to lawful residence pursuant to Section8(f) or 8(h) of the Aliens Act of 2000.
For more detailed information, please visit the relevant web pages of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service.