Voluntary assisted return is an assistance scheme for people who do not have legal residence in Norway, who are waiting for a decision on their application for protection or who have never applied for residence in Norway.
If you choose to take advantage of this offer of voluntary assisted return, you are eligible for both financial and practical assistance from the Norwegian authorities to return home.
Why apply for voluntary assisted return?
- You will be told in advance when you are to leave, and you will travel as an ordinary passenger on a scheduled flight.
- It is free of charge. Expenses relating to tickets and travel documents are covered by the Norwegian authorities.
- You can get help to obtain the necessary travel documents. If you have submitted valid travel documents or other documents from your home country on arrival in Norway, they will be returned to you when you leave Norway.
- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) can provide assistance upon arrival in your home country, in transit countries and can in most cases provide transport all the way to your place of origin.
- You will be eligible to receive reintegration support. The amount depends on how early you apply and where you are going.
- If you apply by the departure deadline, you will avoid being expelled from Norway and other Schengen countries for illegal residence after the departure deadline. Please note that the application must be registered by the departure deadline.
- You avoid being escorted out of the country by the police and thus do not incur a debt to the Norwegian authorities corresponding to the costs of escorting you out of the country.
Who can return home with voluntary assisted return?
All persons without legal residence in Norway or those waiting for a decision on their application for protection can apply for voluntary assisted return.
Persons who fall under the Dublin II Regulation can also apply for voluntary assisted return. Applicants who have their application for protection processed within 48 hours are not offered support for voluntary return.
There are different programmes for assisted voluntary return, depending on the country you are from and whether you belong to a particular group.
Read more about the different programmes
How to apply for voluntary assisted return
You must complete an online application form and self-declaration that you wish to return voluntarily. The application form is the same for all programmes.
You can find more information about voluntary assisted return and obtain help to complete the application form from the IOM, a UDI regional office or at the reception centre where you live.
How much support can you get?
Over and above practical assistance and financing the journey home, you may also be granted so-called reintegration support of up to NOK 20,000. When you apply for voluntary assisted return, you apply for reintegration support at the same time. The support is intended to make life easier in the initial period after returning to your home country.
Participants in the programme are also eligible to receive reintegration support from the Norwegian authorities. Persons whose case is being processed pursuant to the Dublin II Regulation are also eligible to receive such support.
Persons who return voluntarily to their home country will be offered either NOK 20,000, 15,000 or 10,000 in reintegration support to resettle in their home country.
How much support you receive depends on when you apply for voluntary assisted return.
Persons who apply for voluntary assisted return by the departure deadline will receive NOK 20,000. This group also includes persons who apply before they have been given a deadline to leave Norway.
Persons who apply for voluntary assisted return no later than two months after the expiry of the deadline for leaving Norway will receive NOK 15,000.
Persons who wait more than two months after the expiry of the deadline for leaving Norway before applying for voluntary assisted return will receive NOK 10,000.
Persons whose case is being processed pursuant to the Dublin II Regulation will also receive NOK 10,000 in reintegration support.
Whose applications for assisted voluntary return will be rejected?
Some applications for assisted voluntary return are rejected. This may be because the UDI or the police do not think the person should fly unaccompanied, because the person is waiting to serve a sentence, has been called on to testify in a criminal case, or because the police are in the final stages of planning deportation.
As a rule, your application will be rejected if you apply to return to a county that is not your home country. If you hold a valid renewable residence permit in the country you wish to return to, the UDI will make a concrete assessment in each case of whether you are nonetheless eligible for voluntary assisted return to this country.
What are the consequences of residing illegally in Norway?
The rejection of an application for a residence permit means that you are obliged to leave Norway and the whole Schengen area by the departure deadline. In 2010, the EU's Return Directive was implemented in the Schengen area. This means that the rules concerning illegal residence have become stricter. A person who does not leave a country after receiving a rejection will be expelled for a period of between one and five years. Being expelled means that you cannot be granted a permit (visa) to travel to Norway or another Schengen country during the expulsion period.
In order to avoid such a prohibition on entry, you must leave the country and the Schengen area by the departure deadline.
If you apply for voluntary assisted return, it is sufficient that you have submitted a complete application, including a signed form to the IOM by the departure deadline to avoid a prohibition on entry.
To avoid prohibition on entry, you must help to ensure that your journey home can be carried out, among other things, by helping to obtain valid travel documents.
What is forced return?
You can be returned forcibly if you have received a final rejection of your application for residence and do not return voluntarily.
The police are responsible for escorting you out of the country if you have not left by the stated deadline. You must cover the expenses in connection with being escorted out of the country. If you are unable to pay for your airline ticket, the Norwegian authorities will pay the ticket for you, but you are obliged to repay this sum. If you do not repay the expenses in connection with your return, this could lead to you being rejected if you wish to re-enter Norway at a later date.
What happens if I return to Norway?
If you have received support to return voluntarily and return to Norway, you must as a rule pay back the money you have received. You can read more about this in our circular (Norwegian language only).
If you have questions about the status of your application for voluntary assisted return, or have other questions about this topic, contact the IOM.