Dutch citizenship, but which exam should you choose? You are an expat and you think that the Civic Integration Exam is obligatory for citizenship. However, there is another way to get your indefinite residence permit or citizenship.
So, let’s consider your second option before you decide! Going for State exam NT2 program II might be a better stepping stone to a good life in the Netherlands.
Author: Margreet Kwakernaak, Author of Dutch for Dummies and 7 other Dutch textbooks
Margreet’s book Dutch for Dummies is a book for a wide audience, but later, Margreet specialized on highly educated people. As a consequence, her students preferred State Exam NT2 over the Civic Integration exam, but why? Up to 2010, B2 was mandatory to enter Dutch universities. However, the entrance of English in Dutch higher education and white-collar work contributes to the popularity of the Civic Integration Exam.
For whom this article has been written
Firstly, let’s specify for whom this article has been written: for highly educated expats and knowledge workers. As well, this article might be interesting for highly educated EU-inhabitants who wish to have a Dutch passport. In short: this blog is meant for all those who voluntarily integrate.
Secondly, this blog supposes that you already checked your situation at IND.
Thirdly, you may know the advantages of Dutch citizenship already. This blog is mostly about the available exams, their language levels, and what life offers do after you have passed one of them, related to your career and family life.
Finally, this blog has not been written by a lawyer – so please warn, but do not claim, when legal information is not correct.
What Dutch citizenship brings you
Congratulations, you have passed the exam, and now you are a Dutch citizen!
However, the Dutch nationality (naturalization), so a Dutch passport has more requirements. Read about in IND Dutch citizenship
Being a Dutch citizen allows you, in the first place, to work wherever you like in the Netherlands, in employment or self-employment. As well you are free not to work.
Secondly, you are entitled to all forms of social assistance
Thirdly, you pay statutory tuition at Dutch universities the same amount as EU citizens. As long as you are a non-EU citizen you pay institutional tuitions- different at each educational institution but considerably higher than the statutory tuition always.
Besides, you are permitted to live 12 months outside Europe and 6 years inside Europe without losing your Dutch rights when you return to the Netherlands.
Which Exam? Up to January 2023, there are three!
This blog has been revised in February 2022. From January 1st. 2022, the Civic Integration exam requires language level B1 for those who entered the Netherlands after that date. For expats who arrived in the Netherlands before that date the required language level stays A2. – up to January 1st, 2023. Total beginners need 6 months to reach level A2.
The pros and cons of the civic integration exam at language level A2
As your chance to do the Exam at level A2 may be over, we will not dwell on level A2.
In short: the A2 level of the Civic integration exam is not the A2 level that helps you a lot in life. Sure, it takes even highly educated people 4, 5, or 6 months of studying 6 hours per week, but you will probably end up feeling frustrated with this limited language level.
But, does all this studying not help at all? Sure, it helps you to have a chat with your neighbor, and with Dutch mothers in the schoolyard. Luckily, being a mother of young children gives you the best chances to practice and learn Dutch. Expat fathers need some colleagues or neighbors to speak Dutch with. If you don’t use it, you may lose your Dutch within a year.
In other words: the A2 level is too low to give you entrance to any other education than a B1 language course. Language level A2 is even not enough to enter Mbo, intermediate professional education.
In conclusion: all the mentioned reasons made the Dutch government make a new law requiring level B1. Read in the next section what to expect of level B1.
What to expect from Integration Exam at level B1
Again, this exam brings you citizenship- exactly like with the Civic Integration Exam on level A1 or the State Exam NT2 on level B2. Consequently, you just need one of the three possible exams, as each of them entails Dutch citizenship.
Luckily, language level B1 facilitates a neighbor chat about something more than just the weather. In the Common European Framework of Reference CEFR, you’ll read a detailed description.
Additionally, you can socialize with your Dutch colleagues – though you will not always understand their jokes.
However, when you, as a highly educated person, want to do work at your level in Dutch, you need level B2. To tell the truth, even that level will need extra professional or academic vocabulary. Life-long learning applies to every highly educated person, working on your language skills included.
Citizenship, but which exam? Life with State Exam NT2 on level B2
Citizenship, but which exam should you choose? Not many people know, but passing State exam NT2, full name State Exam NT2 Program II entails Dutch citizenship, including freedom of work, all social assistances, EU-citizen tuition fees and not losing your civil rights after having stayed 12 months outside the EU or 6 years in another EU country.
Most importantly this exam on Level B2 offers you educational and career options, which are not included in the lower language level exams.
With level B2, you can study in Dutch in higher professional education and Dutch universities. But, beware! In Dutch higher professional education and universities, many kinds of studies are in English and in those cases, the State exam NT2 program II is not needed. When you are not a native English speaker universities require proof of your English, either the Toefl test or the IELTS language exam
However, even if you study in English, speaking Dutch well will help you to socialize with the Dutch students, the majority of university students. Making Dutch friends may be the first step in your career! ‘Old boys networks’ are everywhere, in the Netherlands as well. Dutch friends may help you to find your way in Dutch society – whilst limiting yourself to friends of your own country or international friends, may add a lot to an interesting life, but less in your Dutch career.
B2 level boosts your career
When you are living in Amsterdam, Maastricht, and Groningen, with the largest amounts of international students, you might assume that speaking Dutch on a working level is not necessary for a career in the Netherlands. However, you‘ll know better when you find a job in the east or the north of the Netherlands, where life is in Dutch.
You miss a lot when your colleagues are socializing in Dutch As well, you may feel ashamed and frustrated when your Dutch colleagues do the meeting in English for you only. As to job requirements: speaking Dutch at work level, increases your chances.
Additionally, speaking proper Dutch will help you when you leave the Randstad for an affordable house. Unfortunately, not all Dutchmen are equally foreigner-friendly. However, when you show that you do your utmost to speak their language – you improve your chances of acceptance. And how about your children? In all probability, they will speak Dutch better than you!
Would not it be great to understand them fully and to help them to be happy in the Netherlands?
All three exams are civic integration exams
- Level A2 of the old Civic Integration Exam is a base, but not enough for a normal life
- The new Civic Integration Exam at level B1 is good for socializing and simple work
- The State Exam NT2 at level B2 boosts your career.
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