International Women’s Day 2023 8 March 2023 Today is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, Everaert Immigration Lawyers would like to reflect on the position of women with dependent residency rights. An important study on this topic was recently published by the Free University Amsterdam (VU). Most marriage migrants are women. Because they depend on their partner for their right of residence, their personal autonomy is limited, according to the VU researchers. The partner (‘sponsor’) “holds a power tool and determines the freedom of action of the marriage migrant, including in terms of their economic independence, access to integration and employment and physical integrity” through the dependent right of residence. Often, marriage migrants lack information about their own residence status, the consequences of the breakup of the relationship for their residence permit and the right to an independent right of residence. A major cause of this is the information monopoly of the sponsor: the residence permit application process is structured in such a way that the marriage migrant has little insight into the procedure of their own residence permit. “Because of the dependent right of residence, marriage migrants have no control over their own lives, but are at the mercy of the arbitrary or uncontrolled power of their partner,” explains research leader Betty de Hart. When there are serious relationship problems or domestic violence, the marriage migrant is in an even more vulnerable position. Women face this situation significantly more often. An independent right of residence after ending a relationship is only possible after five years in most cases. This means that the loss of the right of residence hangs over the head of the marriage migrant like a sword of Damocles. Due to the lack of (correct) information and justified or unjustified fear of deportation, marriage migrants sometimes involuntarily remain in vulnerable and even dangerous situations. Situations also occur where marriage migrants fail to get the (religious) marriage dissolved. Yesterday, a bill was passed in the Dutch Senate that allows a judge to order a spouse to cooperate in the dissolution of a religious marriage. A development that Everaert Immigration Lawyers very much welcomes. At the same time, because of the dependent right of residence, female marriage migrants remain by far the group that is most often faced with the situation where the partner determines their fate for a long time. The VU researchers note that access to a form of continued residence depends, in part, on the nationality, gender and socioeconomic background of the marriage migrant. The study argues that the dependent right of residence is therefore at odds with the UN Women’s Convention and Article 8 ECHR. Everaert Immigration Lawyers endorses the findings of the VU researchers. It hopes that the State Secretary of Justice and Security will take them to heart and take the measures to counter gender inequality. The full report is available here (in Dutch only).