IOM assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programmes provide a dignified return and foster the sustainable reintegration of migrants who are unable or unwilling to remain in host countries and wish to return voluntarily to their countries of origin.

Together with a vast network of partners comprising governmental authorities and non-governmental partners both in the region and in the countries of origin, we assist migrants to make informed decisions on their return and to facilitate their reintegration in their countries of origin. 

Policy makers have been increasingly recognizing that the governance of return migration is an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach to migration management. This can only be achieved through complementary efforts and coordination amongst State and non-state actors at both national and international levels.

At the same time, IOM advocates for including AVRR programmes in national return policies to take into account the rights of the migrants interests and those of countries of destination, transit and origin.

IOM AVRR programmes derive from a multidisciplinary approach agreed with governments of host and origin countries. They serve multiple beneficiaries depending on status, country of return, profile of migrants, national practices and laws.

The European Economic Area represents the birth place for IOM’s AVRR programmes and to date, IOM – in partnership with the national governments – implements assisted voluntary return and reintegration programmes in the vast majority of EU Member States, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. Until today, the region continues to be the primary host region for migrants engaging in IOM assisted voluntary return and reintegration programmes, representing approximately 75 per cent of IOM’s implemented AVRR operations in 2017.

The region reveals high diversity in patterns of voluntary return by nationality. Trends are constantly evolving and overall comparison of AVRR caseload per country is uneven. In 2017, 3.6 per cent of the almost 51,000 migrants assisted where in need of medical assistance, victims of trafficking or migrant children (up from 1.7 per cent in 2016).

See also the IOM Return and Reintegration Platform.

The Different Stages of an AVRR Programme

AVRR illustration


All IOM AVRR programmes aim at facilitating the migrants’ dignified return to their countries of origin, and – as far as possible – their sustainable reintegration. Based on long-standing partnerships with national governments, the implementation of AVRR programmes might differ from country to country to respond to specific national contexts and policies.

Nevertheless, all AVRR programmes in the European Economic Area share the following common features:

  • Allowing migrants to make an informed decision and to take ownership of the return process
    IOM’s counsellors and qualified partners explain how AVRR works and the available options to ensure an informed decision. They also accompany migrants throughout the whole process, explaining that migrants can change their mind at any time until departure.
  • Providing targeted administrative, logistical and financial support
    Migrants who decide to return home but lack the means to do so benefit from individual counselling and often benefits from reintegration assistance to help them rebuild their lives within the communities of return
  • Recognizing and addressing the specific needs of migrants in vulnerable situations
    Tailored assistance all along the return and reintegration process may include family tracing for unaccompanied migrant children, risk assessment for victims of trafficking or planning for health-related needs during the journey.
  • Arranging for return
    Depending on the parameters of each AVRR programme, IOM can take care of travel preparations ranging from arranging all necessary documents to helping migrants embark on the scheduled day of departure. Returnees usually travel on regular commercial flights or buses, just like any other passenger, and can receive assistance while in transit or, whenever needed, operational or medical escorts.
  • Providing for reintegration assistance
    Reintegration assistance has been gradually introduced to support the returned migrants reintegration process and making it sustainable: reintegration assistance is a key factor to minimize migrant vulnerability upon return and supporting their economic self-sufficiency, social stability within their communities and psychosocial well-being. However, there is no “one size fits all” model: reintegration assistance depends, among other factors, on the needs of beneficiaries, the specificity of each programme and the available resources. It can help returnees’ set-up income generating activities, access basic services or re-establish ties with their families and friends. Continued follow up plays an important role in keeping track of both successes and challenges – which in turn helps IOM and our partners to adjust AVRR interventions.
  • Enhancing dialogue and partnerships
    To maximize the impact of AVRR programmes, IOM cooperates and facilitates dialogue with a wide range of actors including governmental stakeholders, international organizations, migrant associations, NGOs and the private sector to promote dignified solutions and rights-based approaches for the benefit of all.