Will Germany help you to return to your country of origin?

Abschiebeflug nach Afghanistan in Kabul angekommen
An Afghan returnee back on Afghan soil ©dpa

Yes. If you want to return voluntarily, Germany will help you. There are various programmes supported by the government to help you go back to your own country and to build up your life again there.

If you have little chance of being granted protection but you’re already in Germany, there are programmes that can help you to return voluntarily. Since these programmes were initiated, more than 666,000 persons from all over the world have received financial or organizational assistance to return voluntarily to their country of origin or move to a third country willing to take them in. In 2016, 54,000 took up the offer, up from 35,000 in 2015 and 13,000 in 2014.

You find all information about these programmes at www.ReturningfromGermany.de – here is a preview:

At a glance

1. Financial and operational assistance for voluntary returnees (REAG/GARP)

Refugees entering a bus © dpa

For more than 30 years, the Federal Government and the states (Länder) have promoted voluntary return (or onward migration), through the Reintegration and Emigration Programme for Asylum-Seekers in Germany (REAG) and the Government-Assisted Repatriation Programme (GARP), which cover travel expenses and provide a transport allowance as well as a financial start-up assistance for migrants with specific nationalities. All programmes are implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Operating on behalf of Germany, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assists migrants who voluntarily return to their countries of origin or migrate to a receptive third country.

IOM can do this by providing logistical and financial support. REAG stands for “Reintegration and Emigration Program for Asylum-Seekers in Germany”, while GARP is the “Government Assisted Repatriation Program”. Asylum seekers, migrants entitled to protection as well as rejected asylum seekers can be supported. The return counselling centres will assist you with your application, as you need to produce paperwork about your entry into the EU and you need valid travel documents.

Eligible persons for assisted voluntary return (REAG/GARP):

Asylum seekers, migrants entitled to protection as well as rejected asylum seekers are eligible for the voluntary return programme REAG. Their travel costs are covered and they receive assistance regarding the organisation of their travel.

In addition, migrants from the following countries can receive a financial start-up assistance called GARP:

Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, India, Iraq, Iran, Cameroon, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Mongolia, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Autonomous Territories, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine and Vietnam (as of Jan 20, 2017).

Non-eligible groups are:

Nationals of EU member states (except for victims of human trafficking and/or forced prostitution) cannot participate in the REAG/GARP programme. Also, no travel assistance is granted to nationals of European third countries, who are permitted to enter the German federal territory without a visa. In case of a so-called “Dublin procedure” (transfer to another EU member state), there is no entitlement to receive REAG/GARP assistance.

Requirements for assistance are that neither you nor anybody else could pay for your journey.

Return counselling:

At https://www.ReturningfromGermany.de/centres you can find governmental or independent return counselling centres in your area. This can be the administration at local or federal state (“Land”) level (e.g. Sozialamt, Ausländerbehörde), welfare organisations, specialized counselling centres, central information centres for voluntary return, UNHCR or IOM directly. Return counselling is individual, non-binding and unbiased. Your return counselling centre assists you with your application for REAG/GARP.

Types of assistance granted under REAG/GARP can be the following:

  • Travel costs (e.g. by plane or bus)
  • Travel assistance
  • Financial start-up cash depending on your nationality

More information on REAG/GARP online: http://germany.iom.int/sites/default/files/REAG/REAG-GARP-2017_Infoblatt-Englisch.pdf

2. StarthilfePlus – additional financial assistance

In addition to the REAG/GARP programme, asylum seekers are entitled to additional financial support if they decide to return voluntarily during the asylum process or at the latest within the period set for their departure. This programme is called StarthilfePlus and your return counsellor can apply for it together with your REAG/GARP application. It depends on your nationality and your residence status whether you can receive StarthilfePlus. Only nationals from the GARP countries listed above can apply.

More information online: http://germany.iom.int/en/starthilfeplus

3. “Returning to New Opportunities”

The new programme “Returning to New Opportunities” is run by The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Cooperating with other agencies, they assist with the reintegration of people who wish to return to Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt.

Online information:

Find information about voluntary return and reintegration options in several countries of origin at www.build-your-future.net and www.ReturningfromGermany.de

Telephone hotline:

The returnee hotline of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) informs you about support programmes, your nearest counselling centre and the return process. Soon, the staff will also provide you with information on reintegration programmes in your country of origin.

+49 911 943-0

Reintegration scouts:

These personal advisors can be your link to development cooperation projects in your country of origin. They provide information about job prospects in your country, put you in touch with the migration advice centres over there, pass on information about returnee programmes, and explore funding options with you. You can find a scout by e-mailing to: reintegration@giz.de

Return counselling centres:

There are more than 1,000 independent and governmental return counselling centres in Germany, where migrants can receive individual and non-binding counselling on voluntary return. Two websites provide databases on return counselling centres:

  1. ReturningfromGermany: https://www.returningfromgermany.de/centres
  2. IntegPlan: https://www.integplan.de/Advisory-Centres.635.0.html?&L=1

4. Thinking of Returning to Kosovo? URA2 is there to support you

The Federal Government and several states (Länder) support a programme called URA 2 for returnees to Kosovo. This project is called “bridge” in Albanian and offers concrete, practical local support and social and psychological counselling for all returnees from the participating states, regardless of their ethnicity or the circumstances of their return, to help them become reintegrated in Kosovar society. In addition, the project provides financial assistance and grants, for example to cover the cost of initial home furnishings, rent, wages and business start-ups, special language courses or school supplies.

5. European Reintegration Network (ERIN)

Are you from…?

Afghanistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somaliland, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Chechnya (Russian Federation).

If so, reintegration services for returning to your country might be available to you.

The European Reintegration Network (ERIN) is a joint return and reintegration programme of a number of European partner states. The programme (6/2016-12/2021) aims at individual support after returning to the country of origin (third country), help when starting up in business and social support from service-providers, and stepping up the dialogue with third countries.