Refugees from the Ivory Coast returning home
Refugees from the Ivory Coast returning home

There are many options for migrants in Germany who wish to voluntarily to their home countries or are thinking about it. The information portal on voluntary return and reintegration ReturningfromGermany describes the various programs that can assist migrants in the process.

The website can assist you if you are in Germany and are thinking about going back to your country of origin. The website is offered in nine languages:  Arabic, Serbian, Russian, Albanian, Persian Pashto, French, English and German. In its first year, the website attracted over 62.000 users. It launched in May 2017.

Here are a few of the features the website offers:

Counseling centers:

If you are interested in voluntary return and would like to speak to someone in person about it, the website offers a tool where you can find a counseling center in your area. Simply put in your German area code and the tool will show you which counseling centers are nearby.

Going to receive counseling about voluntary return will not affect your current asylum procedure. The website's database has over 1,000  counseling centers across the country, both governmental and non-governmental centers.

Here is how you can find a counseling center in your area:

Repatriation/ voluntary return government programs:

Here are a few of the different programs that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and German government offers for voluntary return and reintegration. 

The REAG/GARP program (Reintegration and Emigration Program for Asylum Seekers in Germany/ Government Assisted Repatriation Program) can potentially offer you money for travel assistance as well as financial start-up assistance depnding on your nationality.

In order to receive REAG/GARP you have to go to a counseling center, and will need a valid passport/passport replacement papers. Migrants from African countries usually need a booking reservation from the IOM first to get a valid travel document from the responsible authority. In some cases you may also need a border crossing certificate (German: Grenzübertrittsbescheinigung) in order for you to return when you are required to leave. The return counselor helps you will all the documents needed as awell as the REAG/GARP application forms. 

The REAG/GARP program is offered to asylum seekers, rejected asylum seekers, persons with a residence permit (e.g. recognized refugees), and victims of forced prostituion or human trafficking.  

 The counseling center will then communicate with the IOM and the IOM will  coordinate your journey with the counselling center and you as well as send a confirmation that you are participating in a voluntary return program once the whole journey is planned.

If necessary, you can receive medical care or a medical escort for your journey if you have special health needs.  

Starthilfe Plus: Depending on your nationality and your residence status,The Starthilfe Plus can offer you 1,200 euros if you apply to return before your asylum procedure has been completed; this means you are still waiting on a decision. You can also get 800 euros if your asylum application has been rejected and you decide to partake in voluntary return within the period set for your departure. In order to receive StarthilfePlus you have to sign a so-called "Verzichtserklärung" in which you resign from your current refugee status or withdraw from your ongoing application for asylum.  

Here is more information on the topic:

Here you can also find additional support programs for voluntary return and reintegration:

Country database

The website also offers a database by country where you can receive info relevant to making a new start when you go back to your country of origin and also depicts available reintegration programs. 


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