Legal assistance

The right to legal assistance is considered a fundamental right in the Netherlands, also for those without a residents permit. Everybody who needs legal assistance but is unable to pay for it can have a substantial part of the costs reimbursed. This is enshrined in the Dutch constitution. A number of small social organisations in Amsterdam offer socio-legal assistance and advise on any issues that you can’t approach at a regular legal organisation.

Where can I go for legal advice over employment law, housing law, social law and family law?
You can visit the Juridische Loket free of charge. This Legal Help Desk (Juridisch Loket) is an accessible advice centre. In principle this Legal Help Desk should also help people without a residence permit. If an employee is not aware of this and refuses to help you because of your lack of a permit you have to tell them that you have the right to legal assistance. If necessary the Help Desk can refer you to a lawyer. It is important that you take any documents that relate to your problem with you, or if you have a conversation on the phone keep your legal paperwork next to you.

I would like to talk directly to a lawyer, where can I do this?
At Wereldhuis at the Nieuwe Herengracht 18, 1018 DP, every Thursday between 13.00 – 15.00hrs. legal counseling is offered. First make an appointment!
At Stap Verder in Amsterdam Zuidoost, Hoogoord 187a , 1102CJ, every second Wednesday of the month from 14.00hrs. on legal counseling is offered. You don’t need to make an appointment, just come on time. Services in Wereldhuis and Stap Verder are free of charge.

Do I have a right to legal aid from a lawyer?
Even if you are undocumented you are still entitled to legal aid from a lawyer. You can ask a lawyer to start a procedure on your behalf if you have legal grounds to do so.
Everyone who needs legal assistance but cannot afford to pay for it is entitled to have part of the cost reimbursed by the Legal Aid Board (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand). Your lawyer will apply for this on your behalf. In principle your lawyer requires your BSN or V-number to do this.
But even if you don’t have this you can still go to a lawyer. Depending on your income you will have to pay a contribution (your partner’s income is taken into account when your income is calculated). If the Legal Help Desk refers you to a lawyer you can get a reduction on your contribution. You will receive a ‘diagnosis document’ from the Help
Desk to give to the lawyer. Some lawyers offer an initial free consultation.

I went to Ter Apel to apply for asylum but I got rejected. I have a Dublinclaim.
If you entered Europe in another country and you want to apply for asylum in the Netherlands you will probably hear “you have a Dublinclaim”. When registering at Ter Apel the EUDAC system (European Database) will be checked if your fingerprints were already taken in another European country. If so, you will be denied shelter in a Dutch asylum seeker center. The Netherlands directs your asylum case to this other European country. After this negative decision (or if your lawyer objects, after the last court case + 5 working days) the term of 18 months starts. After 18 months the fingerprints are removed from the EUDAC system, and it will be the end of the 18 months term of your Dublinclaim and you can go to Ter Apel. Please note: let a lawyer check the expiration date of your Dublinclaim, it could be that you back to Ter Apel too early and the 18 Months start all over again!

Meanwhile you have to survive in the Netherlands and have no right to shelter, Amsterdam could offer shelter, but only in case of extreme vulnerability – being a minor, being a victim of human trafficking, or sickness and in need of medication. Check with your support organization.

I am a refugee and have an Italian Residence permit. But since nothing is happening there: No work, no school, no legal assistance, I decided to go to Amsterdam. What are my options?
If you have temporary permit or if you are still in procedure in another country (p.e. Italy) your situation is different than a rejected asylum seeker or a person with a Dublinclaim who was rejected in the first country of entry. Please check with your (Italian) lawyer, because your right to stay in another European country could be worthwhile to keep.  If you do not want to go back to this other European country you will have to wait 2 years after the expiration of your permit, to be able to apply for asylum in the Netherlands. So instead of 18 Months you will have to stay undocumented for 24 Months. Note: you need to go Ter Apel to at least let this 2 year’s waiting start. If you are not registering in Ter Apel your Dublinclaim will never start.

Am I allowed to marry in the Netherlands?
Even if you don’t have a residence permit you can still marry. In order to do so you and your partner will need a passport, legalised birth certificate and a legalised proof that you are not already married. These should be taken to the municipality in which the legally resident partner is registered. Here you can make an appointment for the marriage ceremony. In the Netherlands it also possible to marry somebody of the same gender, the same rules apply.
If you marry somebody with the Dutch nationality, then you fall under Dutch law. If you marry in another EU country or somebody with a different EU-nationality in the Netherlands EU law applies. Important: The municipality is obliged to ask the alien’s police to investigate whether a marriage is one ‘of convenience’: A marriage that takes place purely to obtain a residence permit. If this is not the case the marriage can go ahead. The alien’s police will however have become aware of where you, an undocumented person, are living. This could result in your being detained by the alien’s police.
In the Netherlands you can only marry in a church once the municipality has married you.