Foto omschrijving: Sneeuwpret voor de kinderen van het AZC in Assen.

Executive summary

As of 2017, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) follows all asylum seekers who have entered reception centres of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum seekers (COA) and status holders since 2014, including family reunification applicants and their following family members. The fifth edition of the annual report on this cohort study sheds light on the influx of asylum seekers at COA shelters, as well as on the composition of the newest group of status holders. Furthermore, this web publication provides an up-to-date account of how the status holders have fared who have obtained an asylum residence permit since 2014. Figures presented here include the inflow and outflow at COA shelters, the waiting period for an asylum residence permit, housing, civic integration, household composition, family reunification, education, work and income, healthcare utilisation and crime. This study has been commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Social Affairs and Employment, Justice and Security, Education, Culture and Science, and Health, Welfare and Sport.

Described below are recent developments in the new inflow of asylum seekers and the duration of stay at COA reception centres:

  • Annual inflow at COA shelters lower in 2020 – Total intake of asylum seekers over the first half of 2020 was much lower than in the first six months of 2019. Relative to 2018, the intake was roughly unchanged in 2019.
  • More asylum seekers from safe countries – Since 2018, there has been a rising influx from safe countries, particularly from Morocco and Algeria. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, the influx from Turkey in particular was strikingly large.
  • Share of following family members decreasing further – Asylum applicants from Syria and Eritrea relatively often have following family members. Of the incoming Eritrean asylum seekers in 2020, a share of 53 percent were following family members. The share of following family members from Syria (including absolute number) has declined considerably since 2017.
  • Relatively high share are young men – To date, over three-quarters of all asylum seekers are under the age of 35 at their time of arrival in the Netherlands. A noteworthy trend in the period January 2019 – July 2020 was that the male share increased to 65 percent, approaching the level of 2014. These are predominantly young men, just as in the initial period.
  • Again many young men from Syria – Among Syrian asylum applicants, the share of (young) men increased to 68 percent in the first six months of 2020. This picture is similar to that of the very first cohort from 2014. In 2016 and 2017 in particular, the shares of women and young children were slightly higher than in the preceding and the later years. This is largely due to the relatively high influx of family members from Syria in those two years.
  • More single Syrian men, more Eritrean children – In 2020, 42 percent of all asylum seekers travelled to the Netherlands as a family. In 2017, this share stood at 60 percent. Over the years 2017–2020, Syrian asylum seekers again included a rising share of single men. By contrast, the group of Eritreans included more and more minors.
  • Fewer relocations in first six months of stay at COA shelter – Asylum seekers who entered COA shelters in the period 2015–2016 moved to a different reception centre slightly more than once on average during the first six months of their stay. Since then, the number of relocations during the initial 6-month period has declined gradually.
  • Declining share receiving residence permit within 12 months – In the 2018 cohort, for all nationalities combined, the share that obtained a temporary asylum residence permit within 12 months was lower than in the previous cohort. The cohort that arrived in 2018 and the different nationalitiesnoot1 within this cohort show a wide variety, with shares ranging from 20 to 93 percent. Only asylum seekers from Afghanistan arriving in 2018 were more likely to obtain a temporary residence permit relative to previous cohorts.
  • After 5.5 years, 370 asylum seekers still staying at a COA shelter without a permit – This does not mean the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) is currently still processing the applications of all these persons. Some remain in a reception centre after being rejected to await their departure, others pending a court ruling after an appeal. Furthermore, following a rejection, applicants may file another (second or subsequent) asylum application; for instance, when their situation has changed or because new information has become available about their country of origin.
  • Eritreans who arrived in 2016–2017 remain at shelter more briefly due to more family members – The situation improved for those Eritreans who entered the Netherlands in 2016 and 2017: of this group, 80 percent had been provided housing within 12 months. This can be explained by the fact that a significant share of the arrivals in recent years have been following family members. The share of following family members fell in 2018, and with it the share obtaining housing within 12 months.
  • Afghans recently departing/returning less often – Compared to, for example, Syrians and Eritreans, asylum applications by Afghan nationals have been rejected relatively often. A relatively large share of the Afghan asylum seekers from the 2016 and 2017 cohorts in particular have departed within 12 months. This share was lower among the 2018 cohort.
  • Hardly any following family members among recent cohorts – Provisional residence permits for following family members (MVVs) are only issued if the application is filed by the permit holder within three months from obtaining the asylum residence permit. These MVVs are valid for 90 days only. Any following family members must enter the Netherlands within that time limit. Especially asylum seekers from the 2014 and 2015 cohorts made use of this system relatively often.

Described below are recent developments in the housing and civic integration of status holders and their following family members, as well as family reunification applicants:

  • Number of granted permits declining further – The number of granted residence permits has declined since 2017. In this study, status holders also include the following family members who have obtained a (derived) asylum residence permit.
  • Top 5 nationalitiesnoot2 has changed, top 2 unchanged – Each year, Syrians and Eritreans constitute the largest and second largest share of status holders, respectively. In 2019 and the first half of 2020, the top 5 further included the Turkish and Yemeni nationalities.
  • Fewer following family members among Syrian permit holders in particular – In 2014, 27 percent of the asylum resident permits was issued to a following relative. This share rose to 49 percent in 2017, but declined to 17 percent in the first half of 2020. Among Syrians in particular, the share of permits that were granted to following family members initially went up (from 32 in 2014 to 58 percent in 2017). but fell sharply again afterwards (to 18 percent in the first half of 2020).
  • Average waiting time shortest for Eritreans due to family reunification – Syrian and Eritrean family members obtain a residence permit relatively quickly. The family reunification procedure results in a shorter average waiting time. Relatively many family members are included in the most recent cohort, particularly among Eritreans.
  • Few regional differences – The geographical spread of status holders across the Netherlands shows few differences in terms of nationality and permit cohort. Even four years after leaving the COA reception centres, status holders are still living spread across the country.
  • Status holders increasingly found in urban areas – In the 2014 cohort, 53 percent were living in strongly or very strongly urbanised areas after two months; this share had increased to 58 percent after five years.
  • Education enrolment increasing – A rising share of status holders in successive cohorts are enrolled in education (e.g. last year, 49 percent of the 2017 cohort). Even young people aged 18 and over, for whom education is not compulsory, are progressively likely to enrol in education as their duration of stay becomes longer.
  • Enrolment in MBO no longer increasing – Most status holders who complete secondary education then move on to senior secondary vocational education (MBO). As of October 2020, 51 percent of all status holders who obtained an asylum residence permit in 2014 and following education were enrolled at MBO level. This is a slightly lower share than one year previously.
  • Progressively higher MBO level enrolment – Of the status holders who received a residence permit in 2014 and who subsequently enrolled in MBO, the majority were initially taking Level 1. Since 2018, the share following Level 2 education has exceeded the share following Level 1 education. The same applies to the 2015 cohort as of 2019.
  • 95 percent of civic integration candidates from the 2014 cohort have fulfilled the requirement – When merely taking into account those in the 2014 cohort with a civic integration requirement, 67 percent had passed the civic integration exam (or received dispensation) by October 2020. A share of 28 percent received dispensation; 3 percent have not yet passed the exam, but have been given time to do so; 2 percent have not passed the exam yet and have consequently exceeded the maximum time frame for civic integration.
  • Language level mostly A2 – Civic integration candidates learn how to read, write and speak the Dutch language to at least A2 level. This is the most basic language level necessary to get by in daily life. Status holders are also able to pursue language training at a higher level, for example when they are planning to enrol in education or find a job after their civic integration. 86 percent of those from the 2014 cohort who received a residence permit and who passed the civic integration exam did so at A2 level.
  • Share of status holders in work no longer rising – In the 2014 permit cohort, 41 percent of all status holders aged 18 to 64 years are working 5.5 years later. Not only do we see a steadily rising labour participation rate, but the gaps in labour participation among the nationalities have also become narrower. The majority of status holders in employment are part-time workers (73 percent), while 84 percent are under a temporary contract. The rise in the share of employed status holders has stagnated in recent months. This is likely due to the effect of the coronavirus crisis, which has had a relatively great impact on those with temporary contracts (for example working in accommodation and food services or for temporary employment agencies).
  • Share of social assistance recipients further down – 90 percent of all 18 to 64-year-olds who received an asylum residence permit in 2014 are on a social assistance benefit after 18 months. Four years on, 5.5 years after obtaining their permit, this share is down to 42 percent, with smaller differences between the various nationalities.
  • Still few income differences – A significant share of status holders live on social assistance benefits, which are fixed amounts determined by their family situation.
  • Healthcare use not further up – Of all adult status holders (18+) who obtained a permit in 2014 and were no longer staying at a COA shelter by the end of 2015, 81 percent had healthcare costs related to GP visits. 77 percent of them actually consulted a GP while 23 percent only had costs related to registration with a GP. One year later (in 2017), nearly 95 percent of the status holders from the 2014 cohort had had GP-related healthcare costs (were therefore registered with a GP). From 2017 to 2018 inclusive, healthcare use among status holders from the 2014 cohort remained virtually the same. Healthcare use among Eritrean status holders saw the strongest increase: whereas in 2015, 67 percent had GP-related healthcare costs, by 2018 this was 95 percent.
  • Share of young people receiving youth care stable – Of all young people (up to 22 years) who obtained an asylum residence permit in 2014 or 2015 and were no staying at a COA reception centre, approximately 3.5 percent were using some form of youth care in 2016. Two years later, this share was 6 percent. The share remained stable (6 percent) in 2019. Youth care includes care provided to young people and their parents in case of psychological, psychosocial or behavioural problems, a mental handicap, or parenting problems (for example youth assistance); placing orphaned minor status holders under custody (youth protection), and youth probation.
  • Little change in share of registered crime suspects – Male status holders are (still) relatively more often criminal suspects than men with a Dutch or a western migration background, but less often compared to men with a non-western migration background.


The nationality is derived from the country of birth, country of origin, or the original nationality in cases where this nationality is unknown or has changed to Dutch nationality in the meantime.

The nationality is derived from the country of birth, country of origin, or the original nationality in cases where this nationality is unknown or has changed to Dutch nationality in the meantime.


Deze website is ontwikkeld door het CBS in samenwerking met Textcetera Den Haag.
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Zoë Driessen

Evelien Ebenau (projectleider)

Corina Huisman

Stephan Verschuren


We danken de medewerkers van de volgende instanties voor hun constructieve bijdrage aan deze editie van het Asielcohorten onderzoek:

Centraal Orgaan opvang asielzoekers (COA)

Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO)

Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (IND)

Ministerie van Justitie en Veiligheid (JenV)

Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap (OCW)

Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid (SZW)

Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport (VWS)

Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)

Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau (SCP)

Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum (WODC)