Palma de Majorca.—Between January and November this year, regional government reported yesterday, 144 immigrants in the Balearics have made an application for funds to get back home, and 121 of them have succeeded.

The Foreigners' Loan Plan, or “Apre” as it is known for short, is in operation throughout the country to help immigrants - either from European Union countries - or from non-EU countries which have reciprocal Social Security arrangements with Spain - return home. But there are conditions.

The applicant has to be legally entitled to live and work in Spain but is now registered as unemployed and entitled to claim benefit by the Job Centre - in the case of the Balearic Islands, by SOIB. There are also programmes, such as one run by the Red Cross which helps foreigners who are here illegally and have no income at all, of getting back to their country of origin.

Last year there were 161 applications made in the Balearics for “Apre” and 137 immigrants made it home as a result. Looking at figures for this year and last, there has been less demand for help than there was in 2009 when 230 applications were made and 196 finally left.

The government report said that although many immigrants had left the Balearics and Spain in general after finding themselves out of work, demand for the loan programme had declined. This has been based on forecasts for a boom in tourism over the past couple of years which had raised hopes of finding work in the summer.

It is expected though that by the end of the year, jobless foreigners will be making further applications. The waiting time for return is between 6 and 8 weeks.