Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programmes (ARVoRe) are an indispensable component in a comprehensive approach to migration management. Such programmes aim to protect the rights of migrants, including the right to return to their countries, the right to leave a country and  the right to freedom, by providing administrative, logistical and financial support, including reintegration support,  to people who are unable or unwilling to stay in the host country or  who decide to return to their countries of origin or to a third country, where they have a legal right to enter and stay, but do not have  the financial means to do so.

Returning can be a difficult decision. By providing up-to-date information and individual advice, IOM seeks to empower migrants in the decision-making process and in the exercise of their rights in relation to returning to the country of origin. In order for them to make informed decisions about whether or not to participate in voluntary return programmes, informing and counselling is a fundamental step and a prerequisite for a safe and dignified return to the country of origin. Respect for migrants’ free, prior and informed consent is the prerequisite for any operational support related to return and reintegration offered by IOM.

In Portugal, IOM has been implementing Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programmes (PRV/ARVoRe) since 1997 in cooperation with the Government of Portugal. Since 2007 the Programme has been co-financed by Community Funds (initially by the European Return Fund, then under the SOLID Framework Programme and more recently under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and by the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). IOM is currently implementing the ARVoRe VIII Project, which started in January 2021 for a period of two years and has been extended until the 31st of December 2023.

The Programme provides information and counselling, pre-departure orientation, psychosocial support, logistical and administrative assistance in preparing for travel, as well as operational assistance at the airport prior to boarding. It also includes a component of individual reintegration assistance which is established according to the needs of migrants. Reintegration assistance is limited, and it is awarded upon application by the beneficiaries.

The successful implementation of ARVoRe Programme requires the cooperation and participation of a large number of actors, namely: migrants, the Portuguese Government, SEF, the extended network of local partners, CLAIMS and CNAIMs and countries of origin. The partnerships created by IOM with different national and international stakeholders are essential for an effective implementation of the Programme, since pre-departure phase to reintegration in the country of origin.

The Programme is based on a set of principles set out in the Policy on Education. and contributes to: Targets 10.2., 10.7., 17.9., 17.17. the Sustainable Development Goals; it also contributes to Goal 3 of the IOM Governance Framework and Goal 21 of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

For more information, please check the project website: www.retornovoluntario.pt

 

Services provided under the ARVoRe VIII Program

IN PORTUGAL:

  • Individualised information and advice on voluntary return and reintegration assistance, including information on the country of origin;
  • Specialised assistance and referral to referral services in cases of vulnerability;
  • Possibility of pre-departure psychosocial support;
  • Organisation of the journey to the final destination;
  • Support and referral to obtain travel documents;

 

 

IN THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

  • Assistance at arrival, if required;
  • Possibility of assistance with reintegration in the country of origin, as needed and possible;
  • Monitoring and follow-up, in the case of beneficiaries of reintegration support

 

IN THE COUNTRY OF TRANSIT:

  • Assistance at the transit airport, if required;
  • Arrangement of accompaniment during the trip, if necessary;
  • Assistance at Lisbon airport on the day of departure. 
Information and advice for migrants

IOM informs and advises all migrants individually prior to enrolment in the programme and throughout pre-departure phase. Individual counselling allows migrants to consider all available options and inherent rights, to be informed about the support they will receive and conditions of the Programme and, consequently, to decide whether or not this will be the best alternative. Whenever appropriate, IOM Portugal works in collaboration with the missions at the countries of origin to be able to report on concrete issues related to the return.

Information and advice are available both at IOM and through the Information and Advice Network. The focal points of this network are spread across the country and they can inform, advise and register migrants in the Programme. The list of focal points can be found here: https://www.retornovoluntario.pt/parceiros.php

How does ARVoRe VIII Program Works

1. CONTACT US

The decision to return to your country can be a difficult one to make. If you feel that this is the best option for you and/or your family, IOM team is available to explain how the Program works, what kind of assistance you can receive and answer your questions in order to contribute to an informed and voluntary decision. Counseling is given on an individual and confidential basis. You can contact IOM office in Lisbon via phone, email, Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp.

 

2. DECISION

Once you have been explained all the procedures related to our services, you will have as much time as you need to think about the next step. It's important for you to know that you can change your mind at any stage of the process, even after you've signed up

 

3. ENROLLMENT IN THE PROGRAM

You can schedule your registration with IOM in Lisbon, or with any partner institution closest to you. If you do not live in Lisbon,  you can contact the partner organization closest to your place of residence (see list of partner organizations of the ARVoRe VIII Program  where you can register). The Programme's support network has several partners throughout the national territory, including the Regions of Madeira and Azores, who are available to receive you, provide all the necessary information and register your enrolment in the Programme.

 

4. PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT

Once you are enrolled in the Programme, you can apply for psychosocial support before returning to your home country. The Programme may refer you to a partner organisation specialised in psychosocial support in Portugal.

If you return to Brazil, you may additionally request this support upon arrival and the Programme will refer you to a partner organisation specialised in psychosocial support in Brazil. This support is individual and confidential.

 

5. ASSISTANCE ON THE DAY OF TRAVEL

After your application for enrollment in the Program has been approved, we will contact you to find out if you are ready to travel and then book your trip. The Programme's support shall include:

  • an air ticket, according to the most direct and economical route to your country of origin or to a third country where your admission is guaranteed;
  • €70 of pocket money on the day of travel to support other expenses that may arise during the trip or upon arrival.
  • On the day of the trip we will be at Lisbon airport, we will have your plane ticket and we will accompany you in all boarding procedures, from check-in to the boarding gate.

 

6. SUPPORT FOR REINTEGRATION IN THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN

Before your departure, our team will be able to help you obtain the necessary information for your reintegration in your home country. You can discuss your individual reintegration plan with our team. In some cases, and depending on your needs, there is also the possibility of obtaining financial support in your home country in order to up a small business or take vocational trainning, for example. The financial support varies according to the needs of each person and can go up to a maximum of €2000. Requests for reintegration support must be made prior to the travel. Each application is evaluated individually and, if your application is approved, the decision will be communicated to you before your return. Each case of reintegration support is monitored individually, from the preparation of an Individual Reintegration Plan to the monitoring and follow-up, already in the country of origin during the first 6 months after return.

Psychosocial support for migrants enrolled with the program

It is undeniable that return has an impact on the psychosocial well-being of returnees. Migrants experience emotions differently during the process and may have different reactions. It is essential to include an approach to psychosocial impact in the context of care. Involving migrants in their decision-making process and in the development of strategies to deal with return and the expectations it generates becomes extremely important. For this reason, IOM in Portugal has been including activities in this area and establishing partnerships in order to better meet the needs of migrants, as well as training focal points in these matters.

Migrants enrolled in the Programme can request psychosocial support while waiting to return. The referral will be made to ISPA, CRL, which is IOM's partner within the scope of the ARVoRe VIII project in Portugal. Psychosocial support is free of charge, individual and confidential. It is done remotely via internet/mobile phone and consists of at least 6 sessions, according to the individual needs of each migrant. This collaboration aims to improve psychosocial well-being and reduce any possible distress associated with the return process.

In Brazil, within the framework of the ARVoRe VIII Project, IOM has partnered with UNIPSICO to provide post-arrival psychosocial support to beneficiaries of the Programme. It also works remotely, enabling the participation of returnees regardless of the state and municipality to which they return.

Psychosocial support activities contribute to the goals 10.2. and 17.17. of the Sustainable Development Goals, goal 3 of the Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF) and goal 21 of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

To date, under ARVoRe VIIII, 42 people have been referred for psychosocial support and more than 182 sessions have been held. In Brazil, a total of 292 sessions were organized for the 44 people referred.

Information and clarification sessions for staff

IOM Portugal also organises information and clarification sessions about the Programme in order to promote a greater dissemination of the support provided. These sessions seek to involve local organisations, Municipalities, outreach services and other institutions that directly or indirectly work with migrants in each region. IOM also maintains regular contact with Embassies and Consulates in order to inform and clarify the option of assisted voluntary return, create information channels and referral for more comprehensive support.

So far, 22 sessions have been organised during the ARVoRe VIII project, with the participation of 450 representatives of various local actors

Satisfaction Survey

Fill  the AVRR  Satisfaction Questionnaire available here.

IOM team thanks you for your trust and for having travelled with ARVoRe VIII.  Your feedback is very important and your answers to this questionnaire will help us to improve the programme.

Legislation

ASSISTED VOLUNTARY RETURN

Portugal is framed in Article 139 - Support for Voluntary Return, and Articles 33 (2)  and 33 A (1) of  Law No. 23/2007 of 4 July, as amended.

Article 139 - Support for Voluntary Return:

1 - The State may support the voluntary return of foreign nationals who meet the conditions required of their countries of origin, within the framework of cooperation programmes established with international organisations, namely the International Organisation for Migration, or non-governmental organisations.

2 - Foreign nationals benefiting from the support granted pursuant to the preceding paragraph, when holding a residence permit, shall surrender it at the border post at the time of boarding.

3 - For a period of three years after abandonment, beneficiaries of voluntary return support may only be admitted to national territory and to that of Member States of the European Union or States party or associated States to the Implementing Convention if they repay the amounts received, plus interest at the legal rate.

4 - The provisions of the preceding paragraph shall be without prejudice to the possibility of exceptional issuance of short-stay visas, for humanitarian reasons, as defined in article 68.

5 - Citizens who have benefited from a temporary protection regime shall not be subject to the requirement provided for in paragraph

 

 

 RETURN TO PORTUGAL AFTER VOLUNTARY RETURN SUPPORT BENEFIT

Law no. 23/2007, of 4 July, defines that foreign citizens who leave the National Territory, under the ARVoRe programme and who wish to re-enter Portugal, during the period of validity of the entry ban (3 years), may request the elimination of the measure, subject to reimbursement from the State Portuguese, (under the terms of article no. 139,  Law No. 23/2007 of 4 July, amended by Law 29/2012, of 9 August, which approves the legal regime for the entry, stay, exit and removal of foreigners from national territory and under the terms  of Regulatory Decree No. 02/2013, of 18 March, article 80, which establishes the requirements and conditions for the admission into national territory of foreign citizens who,  having left the national territory after benefiting from support for voluntary return, intends to return to Portugal before the end of the Entry Ban period).