The Council of State has announced a different method to assess whether the income of someone who is applying for family reunification is sufficient. The situation of flex workers is now taken into account as well.
When applying for a residence permit for family members abroad, the sponsor (usually the partner or parent in the Netherlands) must present proof of independent, long-term and sufficient income.
Sufficient means the income is at least the current statutory minimum wage.
Long-term means it is at least available for a year, counting from the moment IND receives the application.
More and more often, sponsors cannot fulfil the income requirement, because they work through an agency, with a zero hour contract or on-call, with an irregular income.
In September 2016, the Council of State has ruled on the subject of persons with flexible income. In a letter of 23 February 2017, the State Secretary for Security and Justice informed the House of Representatives that the method for income assessment is changed.
In the past, the income was considered long-term if the salary earned at the moment of applying, had been sufficient in the 3 years preceding the application, even if there was no guarantee (or: prospect) of continued sufficient income in the year to come.
In the 3 years preceding the application, a maximum of 6 months of receiving unemployment benefit was allowed.
The Council of State rules that looking back over 3 years is too long and is in contravention of the European Family Reunification Directive (pdf).
Moreover, the Council of State rules that it is unjust to measure the income in the years preceding the application against the benchmark minimum wage amount of the current year.
The “looking back term” will be changed from 3 years to 1 year. Also, the income will now be matched against the statutory wage amount of that same year.
However, if the sponsor received unemployment or sickness benefits in that year, these do not count as income.
The new check does not only involve looking back at previously earned income; the sponsor must continue to earn sufficient income in the 6 months after the application.