Established in 1951, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration. It is present in Portugal since 1976.
With 173 member states, a further 8 states holding observer status and 393 offices in over 150 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and counselling to migrants as well as technical support and advice to governments.

IOM works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration issues and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.
IOM works in the four broad areas of migration management:
• Migration and development;
• Facilitating migration;
• Regulating migration;
• Forced migration.

IOM activities that cut across these areas include the promotion of international migration law, policy debate and guidance, protection of migrants' rights, migration health and the gender dimension of migration. The IOM Constitution recognizes the link between migration and economic, social and cultural development, as well as to the right of freedom of movement.
For more information about IOM, please, visit:

IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. As the leading international organization for migration, IOM acts with its partners in the international community to:

• Assist in meeting the growing operational challenges of migration management.
• Advance understanding of migration issues.
• Encourage social and economic development through migration.
• Uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.
For more information about IOM, please, visit:
IOM started implementing Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programs in 1979 and it has been one of IOM´s main activities ever since.

Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration is a key component of a comprehensive approach to migration management. It provides administrative, logistical or financial support, including reintegration assistance, to migrants unable or unwilling to remain in the host country or country of transit and who decide to return to their country of origin, in full respect of their human rights, regardless of their migratory status.

The successful implementation of AVRR programs requires the cooperation and participation of a broad range of actors, including the migrants, civil society and the governments in both host and transit countries as well as in the countries of origin. The partnerships created by IOM and a diverse range of national and international stakeholders are essential to the effective implementation of AVRR – from the return preparation to the reintegration stage.

IOM is mandated by its 1953 Constitution to ensure orderly migration, inter alia, through voluntary return and reintegration assistance. IOM emphasizes that voluntariness remains a precondition for all its AVRR activities. In line with its mandate, IOM’s key policy considerations when developing and implementing AVRR projects encompass:
• Safeguarding dignity and rights of migrants in operating returns, while seeking adherence to applicable international principles and standards;
• Preserving the integrity of regular migration structures and asylum procedures;
• Enhancing dialogue and cooperation between origin, transit and host countries involved in the return process and reinforcing the responsibility of countries of origin towards their returning nationals;
• Addressing, to the extent possible, the drivers of irregular migration;
• Advocating for the adoption of an integrated approach to return, including post-return reintegration assistance;
• And working with national and international partners in both host country and country of origin, to promote international dialogue and implement capacity-building for AVRR initiatives.

The Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programs contribute to three mechanisms upon which migration policies take form:

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2015, the States adopted the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” with the purpose of eradicating poverty in all its dimensions and promote sustainable development. States have committed themselves to achieving goal 10.7 to “facilitate migration and human mobility, including through facilitating voluntary return, which is an essential pillar in implementing well-planned and well-managed migration policies. On the other hand, voluntary return also contributes to goal 10.2 – promote the social, employment, economic and political inclusion of all, regardless of age, gender, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, economic status or otherwise – by supporting returnees in their economic and social activities and in the process of psychosocial reintegration in their countries of origin and communities.

Through the national network of partners for migrant information and referral, as well as local partnerships for implementing reintegration support, the Voluntary Return and Reintegration Support program is also relevant to goal 17.17 – encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships. In addition, by engaging and empowering all relevant stakeholders at local, regional and national levels, voluntary return programs promote a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the importance of well-managed return policies, linking them to goal 17.9 – enhance international support for effective capacity building in developing countries to support national plans for the implementation of sustainable development objectives, including through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation.

To learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals, visit:

Migration Governance Framework – MiGOF
IOM’s Migration Governance Framework seeks to present, in a consolidated, coherent and comprehensive manner, a set of three principles and three objectives which, if respected and fulfilled, will provide a humane, orderly and beneficial for migrants and society.

By offering migrants the possibility to return safely and with dignity, the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Program contributes to the achievement of MiGOF Goal 3 which stipulates that “migration must take place in a safe, orderly and dignified manner”. And by providing reintegration assistance, the program contributes to the achievement of MiGOF Goal 1, which states that “good governance of migration and associated policies should seek to ensure the socio-economic well-being of migrants and society”. With this approach, it is assumed that voluntary return and reintegration should not be considered in isolation from other components of migration management.

To learn more about IOM’s Migration Governance Framework – MiGOF, visit:

Global Compact for Migration
On September 19th, 2016, the Heads of States and Governments came together for the first time ever at the global level within the UN General Assembly to discuss issues related to migration and refugees. This sent a powerful political message that migration and refugee matters had become major issues squarely in the international agenda. In adopting the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, the 193 UN Member States recognized the need for a comprehensive approach to human mobility and enhanced cooperation at the global level.
The Annex II of the New York Declaration set in motion a process of intergovernmental consultations and negotiations towards the development of a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This process concluded on 10th December 2018 with the adoption of the Global Compact by the majority of UN Member States at an Intergovernmental Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, followed closely by formal endorsement by the UN General Assembly on 19 December.
The return and reintegration of migrants have taken on greater political importance as reflected in the Global Compact for Orderly, Secure and Regular Migration, specifically in objective 21, which calls on governments to “cooperate in facilitating a safe and dignified return (…) as well as a sustainable reintegration”.
To learn more about the Global Compact for Migration The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), visit:

The Voluntary Return and Reintegration Support Program are guided by the IOM Framework for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration.

The Framework sets out seven principles and six concrete objectives applied throughout the process of voluntary return and reintegration. These principles and objectives underpin IOM’s commitment to facilitating an orderly, safe and responsible migration and contributing to the socio-economic wellbeing of migrants, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Global Migration Compact and the Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF)

The principles and objectives of the IOM Framework for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Support Program:


1. Voluntariness of return
In the context of AVRR, voluntariness is assumed to exist if two conditions apply: (a) freedom of choice, which is defined as the absence of physical or psychological pressure to enroll in an AVRR program; and (b) an informed decision, which requires the availability of timely, unbiased and reliable information upon which to base the decision. In some cases, an assessment may be needed by qualified professionals to determine the extent to which a person is capable to take such a free and informed decision, and who, should the person lack such a capacity, could legally take the decision on his/her behalf.

2. Migrant-centred response
AVRR puts the rights and needs of the migrants at the forefront. Individual assessments should be undertaken to provide tailored support to each migrant throughout the return and reintegration process in a gender- and age-sensitive manner. This is particularly important for migrants in vulnerable situations, who may require a thorough assessment of their situations and targeted assistance that meets their specific needs.

3. Safety
AVRR programs need to take into account safety considerations, such as the general level of security, and operational challenges that may affect the provision of return and reintegration assistance. Returns to certain regions or countries may need to be limited or suspended if one or a combination of these factors amounts to a situation that poses a threat to the safety of returning migrants and/or staff involved in the provision of AVRR assistance.

4. Sustainability of reintegration
The sustainability of migrant reintegration is at the core of the AVRR approach. Reintegration can be considered sustainable when returnees have reached levels of economic self-sufficiency, social stability within their communities and psychosocial well-being, which allow them to cope with (re)migration drivers. Having achieved sustainable reintegration, returnees are able to make further migration decisions a matter of choice, rather than a necessity.

5. Confidentiality
Migrant privacy needs to be respected by putting in place strict safeguards for handling the personal data of AVRR beneficiaries, taking all reasonable and necessary precautions to preserve the confidentiality of personal data and the anonymity of individuals. All personal data must be collected, used, transferred and stored securely in accordance with international data protection standards. (IOM Data Protection Manual).

6. Dialogue and partnerships
Institutional dialogue fosters constructive and balanced exchanges between stakeholders involved at different stages of the AVRR process. It promotes a common understanding of challenges related to return and reintegration while informing and influencing policy development. Cooperation between a variety of actors – government and non-governmental – at the international, regional, national and subnational levels is required to enhance the range and quality of return assistance available to migrants, avoid duplication of efforts and foster the sustainability of reintegration processes.

7. Evidence-based programming
Systematic and continuous data collection, monitoring and evaluation must be established throughout the entire AVRR process to understand the impact of AVRR interventions and inform ongoing and future program design. Feedback mechanisms should also be in place to allow migrants to express their views on the assistance received in an open and confidential manner.

1. Migrants can make an informed decision and take ownership of the voluntary return process
2. Migrants reach their countries in a safe and dignified manner.
3. Returnees are able to overcome their individual challenges impacting their reintegration
4. Communities have the capacity to provide an enabling environment to reintegration
5. Adequate policies and public services are in place to address the specific needs of returnees and communities alike
6. Migrants vulnerabilities are addressed throughout the voluntary return and reintegration process

To learn more about IOM’s Framework for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration, visit:

Return is often followed by a process of re-inclusion or re-incorporation of migrants into their society. This process is usually referred to as 'reintegration'.
As such, successful reintegration depends on various factors such as the migrant’s time spent abroad as well as his/her personal abilities and resources; the acceptance by his/her family, peers, and community; but also on environmental and structural capacities as well as development and economic opportunities available in the country of origin.

The notions of return and reintegration are intimately interlinked with that of sustainability. To achieve sustainability in reintegration, it is necessary to approach migrant reintegration in a comprehensive manner, considering factors that can affect reintegration (in the economic, social and psychosocial dimensions) and addressing them in a way to respond to the needs of the individual returnees as well as the communities to which they return in a mutually beneficial way, and address the structural factors at play.

IOM adopted an integrated approach to reintegration in 2017, defining sustainable reintegration as follows:
“Reintegration can be considered sustainable when returnees have reached levels of economic self-sufficiency, social stability within their communities, and psychosocial well-being that allow them to cope with (re)migration drivers. Having achieved sustainable reintegration, returnees are able to make further migration decisions a matter of choice, rather than necessity.”

To obtain more information on IOM’s integrated approach to reintegration: