Asylum seekers who are offered substantial amounts of money by the government to leave the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru must spend their own cash before receiving the payment.
The Sunday Age believes that once asylum seekers take up the offer to return to their home country, they are asked by the International Organisation of Migration to provide receipts for purchases in their country before they can receive the promised amount.
The Coalition has dramatically increased monetary incentives in the ''return packages'' for asylum seekers, as revealed by Fairfax Media last month. The packages range from $3300 to $10,000 based on ''individual circumstances'', compared with Labor's offering of $1500 to $4000. Lebanese asylum seekers are being paid $10,000 if they voluntarily return home, while Iranians and Sudanese are offered $7000, Afghans $4000 and Pakistani, Nepalese and Burmese $3300.
Asylum seekers who take up the offer are transported to the Hideaway Hotel in Port Moresby that is paid for by the International Organisation of Migration before being flown home.
Growing pressure is now being put on asylum seekers to return home, refugee advocates say.
It is believed Australian officials made a visit to the Manus Island centre two weeks ago saying: ''You will be here a very long time. You will never get to Australia. You should strongly consider going back to where you came from.''
This is similar to the message Immigration Minister Scott Morrison gave to asylum seekers in an ''orientation video'' late last year.
An IOM spokeswoman confirmed asylum seekers on Nauru and Christmas Island were offered payments.
''Part of the amount is given in cash to cover basic needs during first few months of return and the rest as in kind,'' she said. ''Sometimes, their return is organised by IOM and in some cases migration authorities take the lead and IOM only provides the reintegration assistance.''
Mr Morrison confirmed packages were being given, but did not comment on reimbursement.
On Friday, the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, slammed the use of detention centres, saying seeking asylum was not ''illegal'' under international law. ''Seeking asylum is lawful and the exercise of a fundamental human right,'' said UNHCR's director of international protection, Volker Turk.