The last Staatsexamen Nederlands als tweede taal (NT2) will be taken on Wednesday, the minister told MPs in a briefing.
Some 4 000 foreigners due to take the exams between then and the end of the year will now have to wait until 2019, when new tests have been devised. Van Engelshoven had previously announced a delay in the first exam because so many questions had been shared on line.
That delay has now been extended to the second test which targets people with a higher level of education. “Candidates who know the questions in advance can easily pass,” the minister said.
Foreigners who needed to pass the test to meet their integration criteria will have their deadline extended accordingly.
The minister also said that some questions used in integration exams, including the exam which tests knowledge of Dutch society, have also been widely leaked and will now be removed.
Migrants to the Netherlands are required to take the Civic Integration Exam in order to obtain Dutch citizenship or a Dutch residence permit.
It is known as the Inburgeringsexamen in Dutch. Instead of taking the difficult Inburgeringsexamen, the Dutch as a Second Language State Exam [Staatsexamen NT2], has been an easier option.
The Civic Integration Exam consists of six parts, namely competence in speaking, reading, writing, listening, as well as knowledge of the Dutch society and orientation of the Dutch labour market.
The Minister of Social Affairs has already decided to abandon the final evaluation talk, which falls under the orientation of the Dutch labour market section because of a lack of examiners and long delays of up to 15 weeks.
Instead of the final evaluation talk, those sitting the orientation of the Dutch labour market exam will have the option of submitting a portfolio. A special software programme will be used to ensure that each portfolio is original, the government said.
The Netherlands has had one of the toughest integration policies for immigrants in Europe since new laws were passed in 2013 with the support of anti-immigration members of parliament.
But there is now agreement across the political spectrum that stricter immigration policies, which placed higher burdens on immigrants for passing required examinations on Dutch language and society, have not produced the desired results.
A draft set of proposed changes, if passed by parliament, could go into effect as soon as 2020.