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Migrant groups issue urgent notice after Home Office phones asylum seekers to offer ‘voluntary departure’ to Rwanda


JCWI, Right to Remain, Migrants Organise and GMIAU say anyone contacted should seek legal representation

Date of Publication:

A number of migrants' rights organisations have today urgently responded to reports that the Home Office has begun phoning refused asylum seekers with an offer of £3,000 to voluntarily go to Rwanda.

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), Right to Remain, and Migrants Organise put out a notice late this afternoon stating:


We have received reports that the Home Office are calling people to offer 'voluntary departure' to Rwanda. You DO NOT have to say yes.

If you get a call, we recommend to:

1. NOT respond until you have legal advice
2. Ask the Home Office to send the offer to you in writing
3. Find legal representation

Find legal advice and representation:

Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) put out a similar notice for people who were contacted with the offer by the Home Office. People living in North West England who do not have a legal representative are invited to phone GMIAU's advice line for further assistance.

According to a post on X by Jennifer Blair of No5 Barristers' Chambers, available information suggests only refused asylum seekers are being contacted and they are being told they have three options: voluntary return to their home country, voluntary departure to Rwanda, or remaining in the UK without status.

Flag of RwandaImage credit: WikipediaTom Nunn, legal director of South Yorkshire Refugee Law and Justice, told the i newspaper today: "We know the Home Office have been contacting people since Tuesday afternoon before this policy was announced and telling people they have three options – one of which is removal to Rwanda. That seems to be the approach – just to call people out of the blue and offer them £3,000 to go. We've already had a number of clients calling us in a panic and we have had to reassure people that it is voluntary."

Reports of a Government plan to offer incentives for failed asylum seekers to go to Rwanda first surfaced in The Times yesterday evening.

The Times said: "Immigration officials will be primed to approach migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected and encourage them to move to Rwanda."

Under the Home Office's existing voluntary returns service, migrants voluntarily agreeing to return to their home country are eligible to apply for financial support of up to £3,000. The new plan to encourage voluntary departures to Rwanda is understood to be a variation of this scheme.

The Times added that anyone agreeing to go to Rwanda would also get the same package of support as agreed in April 2022 under the Government's original plan to forcibly relocate asylum seekers to the East African country.

A Home Office spokesperson was quoted as saying: "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."

In response, Labour's shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock was quoted by BBC News as saying: "Even government ministers are finally recognising that their Rwanda scheme has no chance of succeeding, so they're resorting to paying people to go there instead."