When I left Somalia I did not have a single national document with me: no ID, no passport. When the central government of Somalia collapsed, so did every other government agency. The municipalities that issue such documents have also ceased to operate. Consequently, most of my generation and the generation that was born after 1991 in Somalia, have grown up today without a birth certificate, national ID or a passport. And that is why my trip from Mogadishu to Amsterdam took four months. I was smuggled through airports with false passports, transported with rubber boats over the Mediterranean and was detained on my arrival to Europe.
I am finally where I want to be. I am Dutch.
To me the Dutch nationality means a symbol of freedom, peace and dignity.
When I arrived in the Netherlands in 2009, I asked for political asylum and spent two and half years in the asylum center awaiting my asylum process. I was granted permission to stay in the Netherlands in 2011. Even then, my residency permit (verblijfsvergunning) stated my nationality as “unknown”. Since then I was busy adjusting to my new home, despite all the odds of being a newcomer with a new culture and learning a challenging language. Finally the day has come for me to get an official nationality. In early 2015, I had already been in the Netherlands for five years and I have my integration diploma. I’m at the naturalization ceremony at the municipality of Amsterdam and I am presented with my Dutch citizenship. That day I became a Netherlander means a lot. It means a second chance to rebuild my life. It means an opportunity to study, to work to dream again. It means my universal rights are protected. It means freedom of thought and expression. It means I can vote. To me the Dutch nationality means a symbol of freedom, peace and dignity. I’m born Somali. I’m a survivor and I am the new Netherlander.
The most important conditions for becoming Dutch:
- You are an adult, which means you are 18 years old or older.
- You have lived in the Netherlands for at least five consecutive years with an official and valid residencey permit for the Netherlands, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Maarten or Sint Eustatius.
- You have continually renewed your residency permit on time.
- You have become sufficiently naturalized. You must prove this by passing the naturalization exams at the A2 level.
- You have not served any jail time in the past four years or received or had to pay any high fine.
- You are prepared to give up your current nationality.
- You must give a pledge of allegence.
The Dutch cabinet wants foreigners to be only be eligible for the Dutch citizenship after being in the Netherlands legally for 7 years instead of the current 5 year term. The proposed bill has already been passed by the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer). The bill is now before the senate (Eerst Kamer).