Return Policy in Germany: The Concept and Practice of Terminating Residence in Germany (February 2016 – March 2017)

Due to the drastic increase in the number of refugees in Germany over the last few years, the absolute number of people obliged to leave Germany has also risen. It is therefore to be expected that the municipal immigration offices (Ausländerbehörden) will be increasingly faced with the task of organising and carrying out departures – be it deportations or support and financing for assisted voluntary departures.

The goal of the project was to outline the different approaches to terminating residence using examples from three federal states (Länder) and to look at how they are carried out by the municipal immigration offices. One particular focus was the question of the importance attached to assisted voluntary departure or deportation, and how both options can be incorporated into concrete policy for terminating residence – for example, as a strategy at federal or Land level or for practical implementation by the municipal immigration offices in municipalities or districts. Special emphasis was placed on what is known as assisted voluntary departure which is generally considered the more “humane” and inexpensive variant of return. The study thus also aimed to contribute to bringing more objectivity to the public debate.

The research project was funded by the Stiftung Mercator. The results were published in March 2017.



Return Policy in Germany. Ways to Strengthen Financed Voluntary Departure


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