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Markus Anecdote - Immigrating to the Netherlands

Written by Markus with Photos by Markus

Being Dutch, friends of mine, mostly from China, have complained to me about the immigration policies in the Netherlands.

These policies are focused on people who have fled their own country for mostly political reasons. To put it simple: they are being prosecuted, or run the risk to be so, for reasons that are perfectly legal in the Netherlands. There are varied reasons. These people arrive with nothing. No money, often no papers and if they have degrees, they can’t prove they have these. The last large group is due to family reunion, where one person has obtained a Visa and they bring over their spouse and children.

Most of the above speak no or little English. They lack the funding for tutoring. And they have much larger issues at hand than to go through a bureaucratic system.

Yet, to obtain Dutch permanent residency (and this is really permanent, unlike the PR in for example Singapore is), those applying need to do several courses. You’ll need to learn to speak, read and understand Dutch as well learn a bit about the Dutch history. And this goes through courses supplied by the government. And these courses are a disaster. Classes are populated by traumatized people, to people who never have followed a single class in their life and the bridge language English is not practical.

But then you have my friends who are leaving China in large groups, taking along millions in assets. Once they arrive, first thing they do is to buy a multi-million-dollar house, rent stuff, buy expensive cars (don’t forget that all these things appear to be cheap compared to China) and put their kids in up-scale private schools. They also expect that money will solve the requirements towards having to complete said courses. But it doesn’t. Even if they pay enough tax per month to cover 5 years of salary off the system, the civil servant would be telling them they need to complete these courses, not doing these courses means you have to leave the country.

My Chinese friends do not understand this and ask me “why someone who will only cost the state money is welcome, but we are not”, the answer is simple: because they do show up at these courses and do complete these exams. Money is not a driver in this process.

But then I realized money is just as relevant in this case as it is to have your kid get the best degree that is out there: Private Tutoring. In fact, what they need is a coach. So someone who from start to finish will tell them what they need to do at what moment and where. And arrange the relevant private tutors to help them study. The only thing that cannot be prevented is actual study tie. But we expect the same from our kids, no matter if they go to a private of public school: they still need to learn enough to complete the exams.

So that’s what I did for my friends. I made a full overview of what they need to do. I arranged the books and setup a study schedule. And they do not need to go to these public classes, but instead I arrange well experienced teachers.

The result is custom made study-plans catering to the availability of my friends. Even when they travel, classes continue online. If they are home, the teacher will come to their house to study there. Study time is limited to class time and they do not have to study in their own time.

And of course, all materials are in Mandarin. The coach is native Chinese. And so is “the way of conversing”, being downright loud.

And this we combined with a few “learning tours” where we go out and they get an assignment that needs to be fully conducted in Dutch. This can be simple tasks, such as find a specific product in a supermarket to visiting the “afsluitdijk” to learn about Dutch history.

Our first client just graduated. His learning path only took 5 month, even though the standard is 3 years. It did cost him quite a sum, but at least now he is done and can continue moving assets to the Netherlands, knowing that nobody can take it away.

So now 2 more of my friends also want this. And they have the funding to pay for it all in what is still a learning curve on how to make everything as agile as possible. I just hope by that time there are still people left in China that have plenty of money and are going to leave.

Once done though, I do believe we have a beautiful product: A Chinese citizen lets us know he/she wants to immigrate, where we hook them up with a lawyer to arrange all needed paperwork and applications. Once Visa is obtained, we give some suggestions on real-estate and schools, whilst starting the immigration process, consisting of courses, clear deadlines and where to go. All this till the end, being graduation and permanent residency.

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