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Institute of Immigration Law


The Institute of Immigration Law conducts research at various levels.

The Institute hosts several PhD candidates that perform fundamental research in the field of immigration law. Next to that, we are active in applied scientific research in the field. This concerns mostly contract-based research for national and international clients. The Institute aims to conduct research on topical issues in immigration law with a specific focus on the tension between theory and practice.

Current PhD research

Christian Mommers’ PhD research, which is supervised by prof. dr. mr. P. Rodrigues, focusses on the voluntary return of asylum-seekers who have exhausted all legal remedies and other aliens who have to leave their host states. Voluntary return evokes questions about the rights and duties of the involved parties: the alien, the host state and the country of origin. These different rights and duties can clash. In this research the international, European and national legal basis of these rights and obligations and their clashes will be analyzed. Then it will be researched if these contradictions can be united in such a way that the rights of the three concerned parties are sufficiently protected.

Mariana Gkliati is currently working on a PhD research under supervision of prof. dr. mr. P. Rodrigues and prof. dr. Leonard Besselink. Her research focusses on the legal protection of individuals against human rights violations in the field of asylum and migration that are attributable to Frontex, Europol, LISA and EASO. The activities of these agencies can lead to violations of human rights, such as the right to a procedure or protection of personal information. This research focusses on the legal accountability of these agencies and analyzes the effectivity of national and European legal remedies.

This research is mainly focused on the developments of legal protection on the European level. Only since 2009, when the Treaty of Lisbon came into effect, has the Court of Justice of the EU obtained the ability to judge the legality of the actions of the EU-agencies on the basis of art. 263 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Besides this, the Treaty of Lisbon foresees the obligatory accession of the EU to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). As a result of this, in the future individuals will be expected to file their complaints against EU agencies to the ECHR.

Finally, a case study will be conducted in relation to the Frontex operations in Greece, with the purpose of analyzing the legal and practical barriers which make it challenging to take legal actions against such violations.

Labor migrants are a vulnerable group on the job market. This is especially the case for migrants that legally reside in the host state, but also for migrants whose permit is dependent on having paid work, or migrants that are not aware of their rights due to a language barrier or a lack of knowledge. The exploitation of labor migrants and labor migrants as a category of vulnerable employees is an important discussion on the international and national level. The UN Palermo Protocol, which came into effect in 2003, categorizes the exploitation of vulnerable workers as a form of human trafficking. In the Netherlands, the definition of human trafficking is taken from the Palermo protocol and translated in art. 273f of the Dutch Criminal Code.

The legal control of labor exploitation of migrants via criminal law is just one of the possible approaches. Another legal possibility is via the enforcement of the labor legislation and the law on alien labor (Wet arbeid vreemdelingen). European law also provides competencies to protect the position of migrating workers that are European citizens as well as third country nationals. This research, that is supervised by prof. dr. mr. P. Rodrigues and prof. mr. P. F. van der Heijden, focuses on the legal possibilities within national and international law to combat the exploitation of labor migrants in the Netherlands.

Completed PhD Research

Dr. Mark Klaassen, The Meaning of the Right to Family Reunification

In his dissertation, Mark Klaassen researched the meaning of the right to family reunification in four member states of the EU. The Member States that were compared are Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. This dissertation was supervised by prof. dr. mr. P. Rodrigues.

Mr. dr. M. Reneman, The Fundamental Right of Fair Asylum Procedures in the European Community

Marcelle Reneman completed in 2013 her dissertation ‘EU Asylum Procedures and the Rights to an Effective Remedy.’ Her research was supervised by prof. P. Boeles and prof. T. P. Spijkerbroer. Her research shows, based on EU case law, that the EU right to an effective remedy contains important safeguards for asylum seekers.

Dr. Ciara Smyth, Rights of the Child in EC Immigration and Asylum Legislation

This research conducted under the supervision of prof. P. Boeles anticipated the coming together of two areas of law: the child rights in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Common European Asylum System. This dissertation explores the meaning of the child-specific rights in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, in general and abstract terms, and in the specific context of asylum, in order to ascertain whether the rights are respected in the CEAS instruments.

Dr. Suzanne Guèvremont, Fomation du Droit Européen de l’Immigration

The subject of this dissertation falls under the theme Securing the Rule of Law in a World of Multi Level Jurisdiction of the E. M. Meijers Institute. The dissertation of S. Guèvremont was supervised by prof. P. Boeles and gives a detailed overview of the legal and political context of the EG-directives to which long-term inhabitants are subjected. This book describes the process of establishment and the content of the directives and contains recommendations for future modifications. In particular it raises the questions on to what extent the directives offer a normative justification for the difference in treatment of EU citizens and non EU citizens, the extent to which the obligations in the directives have binding force and the legal certainty that the directives give to the parties concerned.

Mr. dr. Kees Wouters, State Responsibility in International Law for the Protection of Individuals against Refoulement

This dissertation was written under the supervision of prof. P. Boeles, prof. B. Vermeulen and Rene Bruin. It explores the extent of the right of every forced migrant to be protected against refoulement. The prohibition of refoulement is the cornerstone of international refugee and asylum law and aims to protect people against persecution, torture and other human rights violations that might happen upon return to the country of origin. Wouter’s research contains a systematic comparison of the prohibition of refoulement in four treaties: the Refugee Convention, the ECHR, the ICCPR and the CAT. 

Mr. dr. M. den Heijer, Europe and Extraterritorial Asylum

The research of Den Heijer was supervised by prof. P. Boeles and prof. R.A. Lawson and concerns a current theme: the increasing tendency of states to intervene in the journey of asylum seekers even before they have reached their borders. Den Heijer researched whether EU Member States that make an effort to keep refugees outside their territories are responsible under international law for the possible damages that flow from these activities.

Current Contract Research

This concerns an evaluation of the Modern Migration Policy Act (Wet Modern Migratiebeleid). In this law, three essential changes have been made to the regular admission policy to the Netherlands. Firstly, these changes concern the merging of the procedures for entry and stay into one combined procedure (TEV procedure). Secondly it strengthens the position of the role of the sponsor in the entry procedure. Thirdly, the way in which supervision and enforcement of this law takes place have changed. The aim of this evaluation is to provide a quantitative and qualitative insight in these three changes. This research was requested by the Department for Migration Policy of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice and is commissioned by the Scientific Research and Documentation Centre. On behalf of the Institute of Immigration Law, the evaluation is carried out by mr. drs. G. G. Lodder.

Mr. drs. G. G. Lodder and prof. dr. mr. P. Rodrigues started in 2012 with writing a systematic commentary per article of the Netherlands Nationality Act. In 2014 and 2017 they updated this commentary which is published by Sdu Uitgevers on nationaliteitsrecht.nl

The Commentary European Migration Law comprises a systematic commentary per article  of several instruments of EU law relating to migration. Several authors from academia and practice contribute to this project. On behalf of the Institute for Immigration Law, the commentary on the Family Reunification Directive is provided by mr. drs. G.G. Lodder.

Completed Contract Research

The Best Interests of the Child in EU Family Reunification Law (2017)

This concerns a research conducted by prof. dr. mr. P. Rodrigues and dr. Mark Klaassen on the application of the best interests of the child as defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice. This research resulted in a publication in the journal ‘European Journal of Migration and Law’ in 2017. This research project was co-financed by the Leiden University Fund.

Research report ´In Case of a Lack of Evidence’ (2016)

This reports presents the conclusions of Mr. Stefan Kok´s research into the working method of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service under Working Instruction 2014/10 which concerns the assessment of the credibility of asylum seekers. This research, commissioned by the Dutch Refugee Council was conducted by Mr. Stefan Kok in 2016. Click here to view the report.

Research report ´The Child and Human Human Trafficking in Migration Law´ (2015)

In 2015, Mr. Stefan Kok published his report on children and human trafficking in migration law. This report discusses international, European and national legal frameworks on the admission of foreign minors that are victims of human trafficking. This research report also address practical challenges. To what extent do the regulations, in their mutual cohesion, foresee in a timely and durable solution for the child and are other modifications of the national legal framework necessary? Organizations such as the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service, Defence for Children, the Nidos foundation, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service, the National Reporter on Human Trafficking and various lawyers have contributed to this report. Based on the results of this research, various policy recommendations were made. The research was co-funded by the Leiden University Fund. Click here to view the report.

Children´s Rights Monitor (2013-2016)

Between 2013 and 2016, the advice Children´s Rights Monitor commissioned by the Netherlands Ombudsman for Children was published by the Institute for Immigration law in cooperation with the Child Law Department. The Children’s Rights Monitor assessed whether and how children’s rights as defined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child are complied with in the Netherlands. On behalf of the Institute of Immigration Law, Prof. dr. mr. P. Rodrigues, dr. mr. Marcelle Reneman and mr. Stefan Kok were involved and responsible for the chapter on minor aliens.  

The Best Interests of the Child and Abuse of the Law in Immigration Law (2016)

In the field of immigration law, the abuse of the law is an underexposed theme. However, during the political debate and the negotiation of the migration policies it is often mentioned that abuse of the law needs to be prevented. Nonetheless, abuse of the law is not a clearly defined concept and therefore it is not clear when it actually takes place. This research, co-funded by the Leiden University Fund, was conducted by prof. dr. mr. P. Rodrigues.

Legal Feasibility of the Independent Housing Criteria for Family Reunification (2010)

This concerns an expert memo for the purposes of contributing to a research of Significant, which was commissioned by the Research and Documentation Centre. This research was conducted by prof. R. A. Lawson, prof. dr. mr. P. Rodrigues and mr. drs. G. G. Lodder and answers the question if and how the implementation of an independent housing criteria at first admission in the case of family reunification according to international and national legal standards is possible and desirable.

Thematic National Legal Study on the Rights of Irregular Immigrants in Voluntary and Involuntary Return Procedures (2009)

A thematic study on the situation and rights of irregular migrants in voluntary and involuntary return procedures in the Netherlands. This study was commissioned by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) and conducted by mr. drs. G. G. Lodder and drs. Ch. Mommers.

The Use of EU Family Law by Family Migrants who are Third Country Nationals (2009)

This research answers the questions that the Secretary of State has raised on the scope, composition and increase of the group of family migrants that have requested a residence permit for the Netherlands on the basis of EU law. This research was carried out by Regioplan Beleidsonderzoek, the Institute of Immigration law and the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Information and Analysis Centre. This research was commissioned by the Scientific Research and Documentation Centre and on behalf of the Institute of Immigration Law, mr. drs. G.G. Lodder has contributed to this research.

Evaluation of the Law Integration Abroad: Research into the Legal Aspects (2008–2009)

This evaluation analyzes the functioning of the law on integration abroad and its effects. Different aspects of this law were under scrutiny, such as the difficulty level of the integration exams and the way in which the exams were conducted. Legal questions were taken into account as well, such as compatibility of the Law Integration Abroad with other (international) legal norms. This research was carried out by mr. drs. G.G. Lodder and was commissioned by the Ministry of Public Health, Spatial Planning and the Environment.

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