E.g., 07/01/2022
E.g., 07/01/2022
Leveraging Predeparture Counseling to Support Returning Migrants’ Sustainable Reintegration

Across the European Union, assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programs have proliferated over the past several decades, amid mounting pressure on policymakers to increase the return rate of migrants without a right to stay in Europe. These programs are considered more cost-effective, humane, and pragmatic from a diplomatic perspective, and ultimately aim to help migrants reintegrate successfully into their communities of origin.

Much of the reintegration assistance AVRR programs offer occurs after migrants arrive in their origin countries, but there is growing awareness that kickstarting this support before the return journey can play a decisive role in reintegration outcomes. It can have the dual benefits of helping migrants develop a clearer picture of life after return, and of collecting information that origin-country service providers can use to support them effectively after they arrive. Yet, the potential of predeparture counselling may remain untapped if information gaps between actors in origin and destination countries are not addressed.

This policy brief provides an overview of predeparture counseling and information-sharing challenges in European AVRR programs. It then explores strategies for improving the exchange of information and, thus, better leveraging predeparture counseling to support returnees’ sustainable reintegration.

Table of Contents 

1  Introduction

2  A Fragmented Landscape: The Challenges of Transnational Information-Sharing in AVRR Programs
A. Mismatch between Returnees’ Expectations and Origin-Country Realities
B. Poor Quality of Case Information Shared with Origin-Country Service Partners
C. Limited Involvement of Origin-Country Authorities in AVRR Programs
D. Diverging Approaches to Predeparture Counseling across Europe

3  Delivering on the Promise of Predeparture Counseling for Sustainable Reintegration
A. Putting Migrants Preparing to Return in Direct Contact with Origin-Country Service Partners
B. Improving the Quality of Origin-Country Information Available to Return Counselors
C. Building Quality Checks into Information-Exchange Processes
D. Building Out and Finetuning Online Case Management Platforms

4  Strengthening the Evidence Base around Predeparture Counseling and Information-Sharing

5  Conclusions and Recommendations