“StarthilfePlus” is targeted at those persons who have little chance of being granted asylum and is intended to provide a financial incentive for them to return to their home country voluntarily, if possible while their asylum application is still being processed and no later than the date they are officially required to leave Germany. It is also intended to make it easier for others who would prefer to go back to their home country to return and start over, even though they may have some chance of receiving asylum.

The “StarthilfePlus” program offers two different levels of assistance: 1. Asylum applicants who take the binding decision to leave Germany voluntarily and withdraw their asylum application before receiving an asylum decision will be eligible for assistance of €1,200 per person (aged 12 or over). 2. Asylum applicants who take the binding decision to leave Germany voluntarily after their application for asylum has been turned down and before the deadline set for their departure, and do not appeal the negative asylum decision will be eligible for assistance of €800 per person (aged 12 or over).

The program offers a transitional provision offering those who no longer qualify for either of these levels an incentive to leave the country voluntarily and soon. This incentive applies for example to those whose deportation has been temporarily suspended, currently around 150,000 persons, according to the Central Register of Foreigners.

Speaking about the program, Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière said: “The new return assistance program “StarthilfePlus” aims to significantly increase voluntary returns by foreigners who are already required to leave Germany. I appeal to reason and good sense: For all those who have no prospect of remaining in Germany, leaving voluntarily is far preferable to being deported. Those who do not take advantage of assistance for voluntary return will have to be deported, because rigorously enforcing the law is the only way to make sure that our asylum system continues to function.”

To prevent abuse, only nationals from a limited number of countries are eligible for the “StarthilfePlus” program. Nationals of certain countries or regions, such as the Western Balkans, are not eligible for assistance, or only for the transitional provision. Assistance from “StarthilfePlus” is only granted to applicants who have no own means of subsistence.