refugees Norway
Refugees and migrants gather near a check point on the Russian-Norwegian borderFyodor Porokhin/Reuters

Norway may offer more financial incentives to refugees willing to return home voluntarily. This will be less expensive than keeping them in immigration centres in the country, the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) has said.

The scheme began on 25 April and will continue for six weeks. On a first-come-first-served basis, 500 asylum seekers will be paid a bonus of 10,000 krone (£838, $1,218), according to the Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

"We need to entice more [people] to voluntarily travel back by giving them a bit more money on their way out. This will save us a lot of money because it is expensive to have people in the asylum centres," Sylvi Listhau, Integration Minister of Norway has said.

Besides the new scheme, the Norwegian government implemented financial benefits for migrants in December 2015 by paying them 20,000 krone towards their travel expenses if they planned to go back to their country of origin. A family of four could receive around 80,000 krone.

"There are also many who are not entitled to asylum and are going to be rejected so it is better for them to be encouraged to travel back," Listhaug added.

The spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration, Joost van der Aalst has said the number of asylum seekers taking up the offer was rocketing, particularly among people attempting to bring their families to Norway, according to the Telegraph.

The number of first-time applicants from 147 countries who sought asylum in the European Union increased by more than 130% in December 2015 compared to the year before.

Arriving from Syria, Iraq, Somalia, and the Middle East, Norway received applications from a total of 31,345 refugees in December 2015, of which one-third were from Syria alone. This is almost three times the number of migrants registered in 2014.