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Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002

Section 58: Voluntary departure from United Kingdom

166.Section 58 allows the Secretary of State to make arrangements to assist “voluntary leavers”. A person qualifies for assistance as a “voluntary leaver” if he is leaving the United Kingdom for a place where he hopes to take up permanent residence and if the Secretary of State thinks it is in his interests to leave the United Kingdom and that he wishes to do so. British citizens and EEA nationals are excluded.

167.Section 58 replaces section 29 of the 1971 Act. The class of person who qualifies for assistance has been largely unchanged (the only difference is that section 58 now excludes EEA nationals as well as British citizens), but the sort of assistance which can be given has been expanded. In addition to meeting travel expenses of voluntary leavers and their families, the Secretary of State is now able to meet costs associated with their immediate arrival and reception and longer-term support to facilitate successful re-integration. It is also able to fund “explore and prepare” visits by persons who wish to assess the possibility of becoming voluntary leavers.

168.The Home Office is currently responsible for a number of schemes to assist “voluntary return”. The existing schemes are being run for the Home Office by the International Organisation for Migration in partnership with Refugee Action. Section 58 enables the Secretary of State to make payments directly to these organisations.

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