Migrants may now be PAID to move to Rwanda under plans being drawn up by ministers

Migrants may now be PAID to move to Rwanda under plans being drawn up by ministers

WATCH NOW: Peers in the House of Lords defeat Government's Rwanda Bill

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 13/03/2024

- 08:22

Updated: 13/03/2024

- 09:00

Asylum seekers could pocket up to £3,000 to relocate to the African nation

Channel crossing migrants could receive thousands of pounds to move to Rwanda as Rishi Sunak’s flagship policy continues to face challenges in the House of Lords.

Failed asylum seekers could pocket taxpayers' cash by agreeing to relocate under a new voluntary scheme drawn up by ministers.

The voluntary returns schemes currently enable migrants could receive financial assistance worth up to £3,000 to return to their country of origin.

The new Rwanda deal would be the first in which failed asylum seekers could receive money to leave the UK without going to their home territory.

An inflatable dinghy carrying around 65 migrants crosses the English Channel

An inflatable dinghy carrying around 65 migrants crosses the English Channel


Home Office officials view the voluntary Rwanda scheme as a way to remove migrants from war-torn or authoritarian countries.

Such countries, including Afghanistan and Iran, cannot currently operate return flights.

The opportunity will be open to anyone who has had their asylum application rejected.

The situation will apply to tens of thousands of people in the UK.

\u200bRishi SunakRishi SunakPA

The Home Office rejected 30,967 asylum applications last year.

A total of 19,253 foreign nationals opted for voluntary resettlement to their home country in 2023.

An additional 6,393 people left later as part of enforced returns.

However, migrants being voluntarily relocated would receive help and housing from the Rwandan authorities for up to five years.

Channel crossing migrants arriving in KentA picture of Channel crossing migrants arriving in KentPA

Integration programmes to assist with studying, training and working would also be covered.

Asylum seekers who refuse the offer of £3,000 will remain unable to officially work or claim benefits and without accommodation.

The costs of the Rwanda scheme were revealed by the National Audit Office earlier this month.

It showed the UK will pay Rwanda £171,000 for each migrant relocated to the African country, with an additional £370million in other costs.

Ministers believe the new scheme is legal due to resettlements being voluntary and it could prove vital if challenges in the court continue to hamper the Prime Minister's efforts.

A source told The Times: "We haven’t ever done voluntary relocation to a safe third country before."

Another added: "We hope there will be failed asylum seekers out there who have no right to benefits or work in the UK, might be in hotels for prolonged periods of time and may want to take up the opportunity."

Ministers do hope taxpayers will save cash in the long-term.

House of LordsThe bill has been debated in the House of LordsPA

A Home Office spokesman said: “In the last year, 19,000 people were removed voluntarily from the UK and this is an important part of our efforts to tackle illegal migration.

“We are exploring voluntary relocations for those who have no right to be here to Rwanda, who stand ready to accept people who wish to rebuild their lives and cannot stay in the UK.

“This is in addition to our Safety of Rwanda Bill and Treaty which, when passed, will ensure people who come to the UK illegally are removed to Rwanda.”

Sunak's Safety of Rwanda Bill, which was introduced to stave off concerns from the Supreme Court, will return to the House of Commons next week.

Members of the House of Lords attached 10 amendments to the legislation but the Government remains confident about receiving royal assent by the end of the month.

You may like