Cabinet: third-country nationals allowed to stay until Supreme Court decides

The so-called third-country nationals who fled Ukraine will be allowed to stay in the Netherlands until the Supreme Court decides whether the government may lift their temporary protection, State Secretary Eric van der Burg announced on Saturday.

With this, the State Secretary for Justice and Security follows the ruling of the Council of State on Friday evening, which decided that a man from Tanzania may stay until the highest court has decided. The man lived in Ukraine with a temporary residence permit, fled to the Netherlands after Russia’s invasion and received the same protection as Ukrainians. The Cabinet planned to end this on Monday.

The Council of State’s ruling on third-country nationals is expected “at the earliest” in November. “In order to provide clarity,” it was therefore decided to freeze the termination of temporary protection for the entire group until the final decision is available, Van der Burg said.

“In concrete terms, this means that third-country nationals can stay in the Netherlands until the decision is made and continue to be entitled to the facilitations and rights as they apply to refugees from Ukraine.” But, Van der Burg said, “the Cabinet maintains its position that the termination of the stay of third-country nationals is legally correct.”

Third-country nationals are people from other countries who were working or studying in Ukraine when Russia invaded the country. The estimated 2,900 third-country nationals who fled to the Netherlands could count on the same protection and rights as Ukrainians here.

In recent days, several judges have issued rulings on the status of third-country nationals. These rulings seem to contradict each other. Some judges believe that the Netherlands should be allowed to stop protection, while colleagues in similar cases believe that only Europe can decide. The Council of State also points this out and sees “different results with different legal arguments.”

The human rights organization VluchtelingenWerk Nederland is pleased with State Secretary Van der Burg’s decision. According to the organization, third-country nationals have had to adjust their picture of the future several times in recent days, leading to disbelief and uncertainty. “For third-country nationals, this creates clarity for a while,” a spokeswoman said. She said that the organization, which specializes in helping refugees, will “make every effort” to inform third-country nationals about the evolving situation.

Reporting by ANP

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