NATO state to pay Ukrainians go home

Norway has offered repatriation assistance of over $1,500 in cash to those who return to Ukraine voluntarily

NATO state to pay Ukrainians go home

Norway has offered over $1,500 in cash for those who want to go back

Ukrainian refugees currently residing in Norway can apply for financial assistance to return home, the Immigration Directorate in Oslo has revealed. The Norwegian government is offering a cash payment of 17,500 kroner (about $1,580) for repatriation expenses.

“If you have a valid residence permit in Norway but now wish to move back to your home country, you can apply for a grant from the Norwegian authorities,” the Utlendingsdirektoratet (UDI) said on its website.

The cash assistance is for refugees to “re-establish” themselves in Ukraine, as the UDI cannot help with transportation. 

Those applying for aid need to submit “a description of how you will travel home and where the journey ends (means of transport, route and destination)” and either a declaration they will use a private car, or a copy of a train, plane or bus ticket at least 16 weeks in advance.

If Ukrainians with Norwegian residency change their mind and wish to return to the Nordic country within two years, they will have to pay the cash assistance back. For example, if they come back within less than a year, they will owe Oslo 15,000 kroner. Those who spend at least two years away won’t have to repay anything, however.

There are almost 57,000 displaced Ukrainians in Norway as of September 2023. It was unclear how many of them received residential status without restrictions, and how many were registered as refugees or granted asylum. The UDI noted that those with refugee or asylum status could lose it if they return to Ukraine voluntarily. 

Earlier this month, Swiss authorities floated a plan to offer incentives for Ukrainians who wish to return, once their temporary “S status” expires, which is scheduled to happen by 2025. The proposal envisions paying between 1,000 and 4,000 Swiss francs ($1,090 to $4,355) to “encourage voluntary departures.” More than 70,000 Ukrainians have applied for refugee status in Switzerland.

The UN estimates that about 5.8 million Ukrainians have left the country since the conflict with Russia escalated in February 2022, although the EU has recently put that number closer to 10 million.

The government in Kiev declared last month that it didn’t see them as “refugees” but temporarily displaced people, asking Western governments not to integrate them but find ways to send them back. Ukraine has shown particular interest in men of fighting age and has even sought their extradition, but has been rebuffed by several EU states.