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Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR)

The UK Border Agency assisted over 10 000 returns through a series of programmes targeting different audiences.

Project dates 01/08/2008 - 31/03/2011
Total budget€50 256 238
EU contribution50%
Name of the entity managing the projectUK Border Agency
CountryUnited Kingdom

Project Description

The AVR programme provided administrative and financial support to non-EU nationals in the UK who wished to return permanently to their country of origin in a dignified manner. This support, tailored to their individual needs and situation, not only provided the irregular migrants with the means to return to their country of origin, but also ensured that their return was sustainable.

The project started in 2008 with the Voluntary Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP) which provided failed asylum seekers with return and reintegration assistance. The Assisted Voluntary Return of Irregular Migrants (AVRIM) scheme was added in 2009 to assist non-asylum irregular migrants, such as visa overstayers, during the return process. Finally, the Assisted Voluntary Return of Families with Children (AVRFC) was included in 2010 to provide tailored support to families of irregular migrants, including asylum seekers, where the family group included at least one child. The project benefitted from a total budget of over €50 million during the three years.

Benefits and results

This AVR project made an important and cost-effective contribution to the removal of irregular migrants from the UK, offering a dignified means of return. By following the migrants after the return and during the reintegration process, the project enabled the participants to build a new life for themselves in their country of origin.

In 2008, over the course of 10 months, the VARRP assisted over 2 300 returns. During the following two years, the different strands of this project (VARRP, AVRIM and AVRFC) collectively assisted over 4 000 successful returns per year.

The evaluation of this project highlighted how highly the programme participants valued the involvement of caseworkers from non-governmental organisations. As a result, this is now a key element in subsequent related projects.

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