International migration is currently one of the most pressing social issues. The matter is not only urgent, but also highly complex for it can be analyzed from a multitude of angles and disciplines. The urgency and complexity are reflected in contemporary international migration and refugee law. Refugees fleeing warfare, such as the Syrian refugees, are not only confronted with the inter-relations between humanitarian and human rights law, but also with the interaction between international and domestic legal systems.
In this master track we will address international migration from the perspective of international and European law, and focus on how they function in domestic legal orders. The interplay between international, European and domestic law is a specific focus of the track and enables one to understand and analyze the complexity of the key issues of contemporary migration and refugee law.Create your brochure
International Migration and Refugee Law is one of the full time, one year specializations within the VU Master of Laws Master's programme, consisting of 60 EC in total. You will follow:
Whatever your fields of particular interest, our aim is to stimulate depth of knowledge, breadth of vision, and intellectual curiosity.
|Important courses include:
The in-depth courses on Migration and Refugee Law, and on Legal Remedies are given by prominent specialists in the field. They will address topical issues, which relate closely to the research carried out at the VU Amsterdam.
The selective course on Irregular Migration will reflect the research being carried out at VU Amsterdam on the human rights aspects of irregular migration in the Mediterranean. The Integration Course Philosophy of International Migration and Refugee Law will analyse topical issues of migration and refugee law from a conceptual, philosophical level. This course will enable students to critically engage with the fundamental presumptions that constitute migration law.
The students of the Migration Law Clinic write custom-tailored legal advice in the context of real cases pending before the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union under supervision of the researchers of the migration law section.
The Master's programme Law, specialization International Migration and
Refugee Law has a study load of 60 credits, 1 academic year.
The 2016-2017 academic programme consists of:
• 4 compulsory courses:
Refugee and Family Migration Law (12 EC)
Migration and Legal Remedies (6 ec)
Legal Methodology (Methoden van Rechtswetenschap) (6 EC)
Thesis (Scriptie) (12 EC)
• 1 integration course (6 EC):
Philosophy of Migration and Refugee Law or
Human Rights Protection in Europe
• 1 elective course of the specialization (6 EC), choose from
EU Internal Market law
• 2 elective courses (Irregular Migration or EU Internal Market Law), or not specifically
related to this specialization (total of 12 EC), or 1 elective course (6
EC) + an internship (min. 6 EC).
You can consult the year planning of the programme here.
|Mr. Bahija Aarrass|
|Prof. Hemme Battjes|
|Dr. Evelien Brouwer|
|Dr. Galina Cornelisse|
|Dr. Marcelle Reneman|
|Dr. Lieneke Slingenberg|
|Prof. Thomas Spijkerboer|
|Drs. Martijn Stronks|
After completing this specialization, students can seek work in the numerous international (non-governmental) organizations involved in migration (e.g. UNHCR, IOM, European institutions such as the Commission, EASO and Frontex). As international and national law on migration are profoundly intertwined, solid knowledge of international migration and refugee law is also most valuable for national institutions and organizations dealing with migration law, such as migration law firms, the judiciary, national and local governments or NGO’s. And as migration law is particularly complex and intertwined with other areas of international law, students who completed the master are also perfectly well suited for careers outside migration law that require profound insight in most basic principles and the working of international and European law.
INTERNSHIP AND VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCEInternship and volunteer experience can be exceptionally valuable to your career. Therefore, using our wide network of contacts in the Netherlands and abroad, we have compiled a list of internship and volunteer opportunities to get you started. If there is an internship you want to pursue or if you are already aware of an appealing internship, you are advised to get in touch with the internship coordinator, Marcelle Reneman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
One of the largest specialised research groups in migration law worldwide
The migration law research programme aims at tracking the multiplicity of complex developments in migration law that take place at the international, European and national levels.
Research is conducted in areas including asylum and refugee law, the role of the judiciary in refugee and migration law, the intersection between the family and migration law, the relation between migration and refugee law and the welfare state, and the critical analysis of central presumptions of migration law. Lastly research is also conducted on a number of human rights related and procedural aspects of migration and refugee law, such as The Human Costs of Border Control. Approaches are varied, focusing both on foundational issues as well as doctrinal and are interdisciplinary and practice oriented. The migration law section has cooperated in various projects with national and international as well as public and non-state organisations. Researchers participate in the activities organised by the Migration and Diversity Centre. Our diverse research activities benefit students who choose to follow the master track International Migration and Refugee Law, the minor Human Rights and Migration Law and the master courses Migration Law Clinic and Dutch Migration Law (in Dutch).Examples of publications of the Migration Law research group are
Below you find answers to frequently asked questions from international and national students.
HBO (university of Applied Sciences) students
Q: Can I apply for this programme with an HBO diploma?
A: No, only students with a Bachelor degree from a research university can be considered.
English proficiency (please note, this information is only for non-Dutch students, Dutch students do not need to hand in language test results)
Q: I have not yet done an English proficiency test. Can I apply without the test result?
A: Yes you can. You will have to hand in a test result that meets the minimum before the 1st of September.
Q: My Bachelor's/Master's programme was taught in English / I have obtained an IB-certificate (International Baccalaureate) – do I still have to hand in an English test result?
A: No, not if your Bachelor's or Master's programme was taught in the EU or an English speaking country outside the EU or of you have obtained an English IB-certificate.
Q: I have completed part of my Bachelor studies in English (e.g. I’ve been on an exchange programme that was taught in English). Do I still have to hand in an English proficiency test result?
A: Yes, unless your entire Bachelor's/Master's programme was taught in English, you still have to include an English proficiency test result. Also, applicants who have obtained an English IB-certificate (International Baccalaureate) do not have to hand in the results of an English proficiency test. Please note that this explanation is not applicable to international students who have obtained one of their degrees (Master's / Bachelor's / IB-certificate) in English, in a non-EU, non-English speaking country. If this is your case, please contact your International Student Advisor.
Q: I have a question about tuition fees, where can I find the answer?
A: Please check this website. If you cannot find the answer here, please contact the Central Student Desk.
If did not find the answer to your question here, please feel free to contact us.
Language of instruction
1 year (fulltime)
1 April for students from outside the EU. 15 July for all other students. If you have any questions on admission or application, please contact email@example.com
September 1st or February 1st
Field of Interest
Economics, Business and Law
"IMRL focusses not only on the legal aspects, but on the social aspects of the area of migration law as well."
"International Migration and Refugee Law (IMRL) focusses mainly on a thorough analysis of the legal aspects of migration, with a particular attention on the interconnection of European and International legislations on the topic. At the same time, however, it allows students to approach the subject from several angles and perspectives, thanks to a broad choice of elective courses and to the variety of nationalities represented in the classes. IMRL’s student, indeed, come from all over the world and attribute knowledge about their national legislation and earlier law education. You are given the opportunity to look further than your own perspective. IMRL provides a diverse study program with high skilled VU-based professors teaching small groups of motivated students, as well as numerous guest lectures and seminars. All this elements, together with the fact the VU one of the biggest research group on the subject of migration law, were reasons for me to apply this master’s track. I experience IMRL as an intensive, challenging and stimulating master."
"Starting the master specialization International Migration and Refugee Law (IMRL) was an eye opener for me, the challenging courses motivate me to put in my best effort. The professors are very cooperative and encouraging as well, having only a small group of students there’s a lot of interaction and opportunity to discuss or ask questions. With the VU Amsterdam having one of the biggest research groups on Migration Law there is a lot of exposure to new knowledge which makes me long for more information. What I like the most about the courses is that I’m learning the many aspects of current issues and with this gained knowledge I will be of help in society, whether that’s in an European country or in Nigeria, where I completed my earlier education. IMRL makes you aware of the present issues in everyday life and how the legislation does not cover these issues sufficiently enough."
"With my master’s track I wanted to learn in depth about Migration and Refugee law in Europe. International Migration and Refugee Law (IMRL) is one of the few LLM master tracks that offers this specialization and gives you the opportunity to compose your own schedule by picking the courses you are most interested in. IMRL is a very demanding and intensive master’s track, but in a motivating way. The well-known professors challenge you to not only attend the high quality courses but also embark in extracurricular activities. For example, I applied and got selected for the Migration Law Clinic, in which I have the opportunity to gain but also apply knowledge in the field of migration and refugee law by doing research and writing expert legal advices on real cases. IMRL has a very informal surrounding, the teachers are very accessible and encourage you to pursue your initiatives."
"I am a law graduate from Cape Town, South Africa. I am enrolled at the VU Amsterdam, studying an LLM programme, International Migration and Refugee law. I first came to the VU during my final semester of my bachelor degree as an exchange student, and knew instantly that I had to return to complete my masters here. The VU is multicultural, diverse and a friendly place to learn and grow as an individual. The town of Amsterdam is one of the prettiest towns on the face of this planet, and Dutch life is second to none.
If you are looking to expand your academic knowledge, grow and learn in a multicultural society and explore the beauty of Amsterdam, the VU is the place for you!
International Migration and Refugee law is a very specialized master programme. The VU Amsterdam IMRL department offers one of the biggest and most diverse research facilities in the world. The programme delves deep into the intricate legal instruments involved in migration law and considers fundamental human rights against the backdrop of migration and refugee law."
Admission is based on a selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application.
In order to gain admission to this specialization, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 EC or equivalent.
Specific admission requirements for the Master of Laws for Specialisation in International Migration and Refugee Law:
The admission requirements are as follows:
If you have read the admission criteria and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required.
Step 1: Meet admission criteria
Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online
For Dutch Degree Holders
For the online application, Dutch degree holders can follow the online application procedure for Dutch students. For questions we can refer you to our contact page.
For International Degree Holders
For the online application, international degree holders can follow the online application procedure for international students.
N.B. In the national application system Studielink, please select the Master's programme ‘Rechtsgeleerdheid’ (Master’s of Law). You can select the specialisation International Migration and Refugee Law at a later stage in our Vunet student portal.
Step 3: Await decision on admission
The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam.
Step 4: Finalize your registration and move to Amsterdam!
Make sure to finalize your registration as a student before the start of the programme.
• Extra information for Dutch students.
• Extra information for International Degree holders.
When all conditions are met you will be ready to start your programme at VU Amsterdam.
Additional information for International Students
Contact for International Degree Students
For detailed questions about the Master’s programmes or the application procedure contact your International Student Advisor at the International Office:
T: + 31 (0)20 598 6205
VU Amsterdam offers various scholarships to international Master's students.
Students from non-EU/EEA and Visa required countries who will stay for a period longer than 3 months, are required to obtain a permit for temporary stay (MVV- Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf) in order to enter the Netherlands. The university applies for this visa by a so-called ‘accelerated visa procedure’. Students can not apply for a MVV themselves.
More information on the application for your residence permit
Before you come to the Netherlands, you should inquire whether your current health insurance will suffice in the Netherlands or if you need a supplementary cover. If you are insured with your own company for your stay in the Netherlands, take a proof with you that you are.
More information on insurances
Contact a student ambassador
Some international students are happy to tell you about their experiences with living and studying in Amsterdam. These Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and have attended various bachelor's and master's programmes.
Our student ambassadors are listed on the webpage below. Reach out to them and get their stories about being a student at VU Amsterdam!
Information for international students > International degree holders > Contact our student ambassadors
|If you have questions regarding the programme, please contact Veeni Naganathar, e-mail: IMRL.firstname.lastname@example.org|
Questions on admission and application
If you have a Dutch degree and you have any questions on admission or application, please contact email@example.com.
If you have an international degree, please contact our Admission Officer, ms. Laura Smit: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any general questions after reading the website, please contact our Communications department: email@example.com.