Government offering failed asylum-seekers thousands of pounds to move to Rwanda, under new plans

People whose asylum claims have been rejected in Britain are being offered thousands of pounds to move to Rwanda, under a new scheme drawn up by Rishi Sunak’s government.

With MPs yet to approve the prime minister’s flagship scheme to forcibly send asylum-seekers whose claims are still pending to Rwanda, The Independent understands that a new deal has been struck with Kigali in recent weeks.

The new plans will see Rwanda use the same framework established for the forcible removals scheme to also host people who choose to move there voluntarily after their asylum claims in the UK have been unsuccessful.

Those deemed to have no right to live or work in the UK will instead be offered up to £3,000 to relocate to Rwanda, where it is claimed they will be provided with a package of support lasting up to five years to help them obtain housing, study, undertake training, and work.

The Home Office is understood to have already started approaching people it believes could wish to volunteer for removal under the scheme, who otherwise will remain unable to work, secure accommodation or claim benefits in the UK.

The plan mirrors existing voluntary removals schemes which, according to the Home Office saw 19,000 people given financial assistance to return to their “country of origin” last year, down from more than 31,000 in 2010.

But it is unprecedented in the fact that people would be paid to move to Rwanda, a third country, as opposed to their country of origin.

While Mr Sunak’s government insists Rwanda is a safe third country, this was disputed in the Supreme Court, whose damning ruling the prime minister is now seeking to override with new legislation, which will return to the House of Commons on Monday.

Home secretary James Cleverly and Rwanda’s foreign minister Vincent Biruta shake hands after signing a new treaty in Kigali in December (PA)
Home secretary James Cleverly and Rwanda’s foreign minister Vincent Biruta shake hands after signing a new treaty in Kigali in December (PA)

According to The Times, which first reported the plans, ministers believe the new scheme is lawful because it will be on a voluntary basis, and it will not be dependent upon the controversial new legislation gaining parliamentary approval.

“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,” a government source told the paper.

The Home Office rejected 30,967 asylum claims in 2023. Just over 4,000 of the 19,253 people who accepted voluntary resettlement were those whose claims had been rejected. Of the remainder, 15,243 people had committed crimes or overstayed their visas, with a further 6,393 enforced returns, according to The Times.

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.”