The Netherlands Entry Ban Exemption for Long-distance Relationships is Confusing

Implementing an exemption to the current entry ban for partners in long-distance relationships into the Netherlands, the Ministry of Justice and Security on July 30 confirmed that people from countries other than Switzerland and the European Economic Area (EEA) were not included as part of the exemption. That’s bad news for any Dutch national whose partner is not from one of the 31 countries that qualify for the exemption. Citizens of the US and just about every non-EEA nation not on the current entry ban exemption list will not be allowed to enter the country for the 90-day period the government is allowing.

In the original letter dated July 16 from Minister Ferd Grapperhaus to the President of the House of Representatives, there was no mention of the limitation on the exemption to the entry ban. However, when clarifications were issued at the time of implementing the exemption, it included this particular clause, which has caused great consternation for literally hundreds of thousands of Dutch nationals who are in long-distance relationships.

The new allowance is still confusing to many because the official government website says that “Travellers from EU countries, Schengen area countries and the United Kingdom can travel to the Netherlands this summer.”

In contrast, a Ministry of Justice and Security told NL Times that “partners of all residents who are not from an EEA country or Switzerland still fall under the normal entry rules, including the current coronavirus-related entry bans. This also includes citizens from the United Kingdom, as the UK pulled out of the EEA as of 31 January.”

The Netherlands government does not plan to extend the exemption to other countries. “Not for the coming weeks anyway,” confirmed the spokesperson.

In reality, a much smaller number of people may be affected; specifically, those Dutch nationals whose partners were outside the country at the time the entry ban was put into effect. For married couples or those in a legally recognized partnership, the entry ban is not a hurdle because they are already exempted. Even long-distance relationship couples who are not legally married or partners can apply for entry for a period longer than 90 days per the usual immigration process.

What’s amusing about it is that the new rule has confused many Dutch citizens because the 31 countries that are part of the exemption are, in fact, already exempt from the original entry ban. “So, who is this rule helping, exactly?” is the question many are asking.

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