Voluntary return is a general approach targeting a wide range of audience including applicants for international protection and refugees and migrants without a residence permit. The return counsellors and social workers provide information and assistance for voluntary return.
The teams of Fedasil, IOM and Caritas International continue to provide support to people who wish to return to their country of origin.
Migrants and social workers can call the free number 0800 32 745 for information, which is available every day from 9:00 to 12.30 pm and from 1.30 pm to 4 pm. People can refer in person to Fedasil return desks in Brussel, Ghent, Antwerp, Liège and Charleroi, to IOM (International Organisation for Migration) and Caritas International.
International protection seekers receive information about voluntary return by means of a brochure at the Immigration Office during the first interview and also after receiving an order to leave the territory.The return path and the return places are explained to the applicants for international protection with an informative sheet available in 11 languages.
If you wish to return to your country and you are accommodated in a reception centre, you can ask your social worker for advice. The return journey is organised from Belgium to the country of origin and includes transport costs and assistance for a smooth journey, all ensured in complete peace of mind and discretion.
For the organisation of the journey, Fedasil works with the IOM which takes charge of booking flights and accompanying the migrant to the departure point, at any stopovers and at the end destination.
Asylum seekers are allocated to a return place, in the view of preparing the voluntary return. Open return places are located in reception centres managed by Fedasil. Migrants are allowed to stay for 30 days at these centres in order to prepare their return.
Depending on your country of destination, the trip will be organised by bus or aeroplane. At the moment of departure, an IOM worker will hand you your bus or train ticket and accompany you to customs. Another person will wait for you at your destination. You will be given a plastic bag of the IOM so that you can easily be recognized on arrival.
You will not have to pay travel expenses. The bus or plane tickets will be paid for you. For some countries, a return allowance may be given in addition.
The IOM is in charge of booking the journeys: airline or bus tickets to the end destination and ensures that travel documents are refunded. The IOM also refunds any transport costs for travel to the airport or station (up to €50 per person);
Migrants have to present themselves at the departure point in advance: three hours before departure at Brussels airport for flights and half an hour in advance at Brussels-Nord railway station for journeys by bus. In order to be able to recognise the migrant, he is asked to carry the IOM plastic bag.
Reception and assistance are also provided at departure and arrival, as well as transport for people unable to travel alone.
Based on the migrant’s situation, the programme includes a return grant and reintegration support into the home country. This support can be used to develop a micro-business, rent or renovate a home, pay back medical costs, etc.
The return allowance is usually 250 EUR per adult (125 EUR for a person under 18 years) which is handed over on departure. This allowance is granted solely to people from countries which require a visa: therefore, EU member countries and Balkan countries, including Kosovo, do not enter into this category.
For all people who are outside of the reception network, it is important that voluntary return is as accessible as possible. This is where the return desks of Fedasil and the broad network of partner organisations comes into play.
In parallel, the Immigration Office’s support and information project for returns, the SEFOR project, is in charge of monitoring foreigners who receive an order to leave the territory and are not living in a reception structure, and provides them with information about voluntary return.