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Jón Gunnarsson Alþingi
Photo: Golli: Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson.

Increased Financial Incentive for Voluntary Repatriation

The Ministry of Justice has submitted a draft amendment to the regulation concerning financial assistance for the voluntary repatriation of individuals seeking international protection, Vísir reports. Among other things, the amendment incentivizes those who have been denied international protection to return home before the deadline to leave the country has passed.

Increased incentive to leave

For years, the Icelandic authorities have offered financial assistance to foreigners (rejected asylum seekers, refugees, displaced persons, or unaccompanied minors) who voluntarily return home after their applications for international protection have been refused. These grants are an important resource for these individuals, as they can be used to pay for housing, enroll at school, or engage in other projects back home.

In a new draft regulation, recently shared to the government’s online consultation portal, the Ministry of Justice proposes changes to this system of financial assistance. As noted by Vísir, the new regulation creates an increased financial incentive for foreigners to abide by the government’s final decision for them to leave the country (since these individuals are deemed to be here illegally).

The new regulation contains a clause providing that if an illegal immigrant decides to leave the country before the deadline for voluntary return has passed, the allowance in question will increase. In this way, an adult can receive up to €4,200 euros (ca. ISK 629,000), if they decide to leave the country before their case has been decided*.

Amendment
Screenshot (Draft Regulation)

“The new regulation is also intended to promote increased cooperation between the government and foreigners who must leave the country,” the Ministry’s explanatory note reads. “This way, the number of police-escorted transports will decrease and the number of those who choose to return voluntarily will increase. It is assumed that this will result in considerable savings for the treasury, as transports accompanied by the police are costly.”

The deadline for submitting comments on the draft regulation is 9 May.

*There seems to be a lack of consensus on the maximum amount of financial assistance offered to individuals who have been denied international protection and choose to leave Iceland before the deadline to return home passes. According to RÚV and Vísir, these individuals may receive up to €3,000 euros (ca. ISK 450,000), whereas the document submitted to the government’s online consultation portal seems to suggest that the maximum amount is €4,200 euros (ca. ISK 629,000). This article will be updated once the figures have been confirmed.

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