This article addresses the shift in the eighteenth-century region of Bruges from nativism to including immigrants in welfare. Settlement law designated the place in which an individual could apply for poor relief. Focusing on the negotiations between authorities for changes in settlement legislation, this article provides new insights on rural-urban relations in migration governance. In addition to the economic and cost-benefit considerations driving settlement policies that are often put forward in the literature, authorities in the wider Bruges region were driven by motives of fostering reciprocity in interdependent relations within migration systems and reforming social policy for monitoring and controlling possible relief dependants. The changes regarding the inclusion of immigrants occurred because of an increased awareness of migration patterns and because the authorities deemed it more efficient to have a set, resident collection of parishioners who could be monitored and centrally administered.