The offer is intended to supplement the existing program dubbed ‘StarthilfePlus,’ which provides help to those migrants who decide to voluntarily return home.
Under the scheme, any participant over 12 years old withdrawing their application for asylum receives €1,200.
Already-rejected asylum seekers who waive their right to appeal the decision in court are given €800, and children below the age of 12 get half the sum.
The new program, dubbed ‘Your country. Your future. Now!’ promises significantly more generous payouts to those who decide to return voluntarily. Families are eligible for up to €3,000 ($3,570) and individuals for up to €1,000 ($1,190) in addition to the payouts under ‘StarthilfePlus.’
The new offer, however, is time-limited and will last only until the end of February 2018. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere made use of an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper to promote the new program.
“There are opportunities in your homeland. We will support…your reintegration,” de Maiziere said, addressing the migrants directly. “When you voluntarily decide to return by the end of February, in addition to startup help you can provisionally receive housing cost help for the first 12 months in your homeland.”
The new incentive to leave comes as Germany is struggling with the consequences of Angela Merkel’s “open door” policy towards refugees and migrants flooding out of the Middle East and north Africa. Since 2015, over a million people have arrived in Germany and many are staying illegally, since deportations are difficult to enforce.
Some 300,000 asylum seekers had their applications rejected by Germany last year, spelling a surge in deportations compared to 80,000 in 2016. The government has now agreed to cap the number of refugees at 200,000, but authorities are likely to remain swamped with applications for years to come, according to an internal document leaked to media in October.