Activity Updates


Getting a ‘Head Start’: IOM Integration Conference in Rome to Focus on Supporting Migrants before They Leave Home

Supporting migrants at the pre-departure stage of the migration journey will be tackled in depth tomorrow at a conference organized by IOM and partners in Rome as part of a project called “HEADSTART: Fostering Integration Before Departure”.   

The conference is underpinned by the increasing recognition in European Union (EU) policy of the role that countries of origin can play in fostering the successful integration of newly arrived migrants to the EU, which hinges on innovative measures that can be taken before migrants depart.

Sound pre-departure initiatives in countries of origin can lead to a more successful overall migration experience, reduce the risks that migrants fall prey to exploitation, and can help them use their newly gained skills back home, upon return.

Many initiatives undertaken in migrants’ countries of origin work to ensure that migrants have accurate and timely information on the immigration rules in a country of destination and that they are informed of their rights and responsibilities. Such services include language tuition or vocational training to help them find jobs and settle in more quickly upon arrival.

Migrants can also be better integrated into the receiving societies when support offered in countries of origin helps migrants to use legal means to enter the country and assists them in finding their place in the labour market.

The conference is the centrepiece of the HEADSTART project and will showcase promising practices in the field of pre-departure integration support and offer an opportunity for service providers in countries of origin to meet with their counterparts in countries of destination.

Representatives of European governments, public and private employment services, NGOs and social service providers, city officials and academia will discuss integration boosters such as cultural orientation, language assessments, job-matching measures, recognition of skills and qualifications and migrant skills development. 

IOM will present the initial findings of a global review it carried out to take stock of existing pre-departure practices.

The Workshop will also feature an EXPO where institutions will exhibit their projects and initiatives in the field.

The HEADSTART project is undertaken in partnership with the World Association of Public Employment Services (WAPES) and authorities in charge of integration issues in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia, and co-financed by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals, Ministries of Interior of Italy and Austria and the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers in the Netherlands (COA).

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Evaluation Report on the Reintegration Assistance of Assisted Voluntary Returnees from Hungary to Kosovo (UNSCR 1244) is now available

The report has been prepared as part of the Reintegration Assistance to Assisted Voluntary Returnees to Kosovo (UNSCR 1244) project, co-funded by the 2012 Hungarian national allocation of the European Return Fund and the Hungarian Ministry of Interior, and implemented by IOM Budapest in cooperation with IOM Prishtina. One of the components of the project was to collect the beneficiaries’ feedback concerning the evaluation of their assisted voluntary return and in particular their reintegration assistance. The major conclusions of the analysis are presented in ten recommendations. Please click here to download the report. The report is also available for download in the Recent Publications section of the website.


Website launched for “HEADSTART: Fostering Integration Before Departure” project

IOM Budapest has launched a new website for its “HEADSTART: Fostering Integration Before Departure” project. To visit the website and find out more about the project and its activities, go to


New IOM project to focus on supporting integration for EU migrants before departure

Migrant integration policy approaches across the EU have increasingly recognized the role of the countries of origin in fostering successful integration of newly arriving migrants. The European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (2011) highlights the importance of initial provision of integration support measures to migrants well before their departure, for example, by sharing information on admission regulations, migrants’ rights and responsibilities, as well as by offering language tuition or vocational training to foster labour market insertion and societal contacts upon arrival.

In this context, IOM’s newly launched project “HEADSTART: Fostering Integration Before Departure” aims to consolidate the lessons learnt from existing pre-departure integration support practices, as well as to explore pathways to a stronger link between pre-departure and post-arrival immigrant integration services. The project, which will last for 18 months, will combine review and analysis of existing practices in pre-departure integration support, with the development of new practical tools and intensive network and partnership building among the policymakers and practitioners in the countries of origin, but also with their counterparts in the countries of destination. A handbook for Migrant Resource Centres as a specific vehicle of pre-departure information and training provision, will be developed and will include recommendations on the standard operating procedures, design, institutional set-up, training, competences, data collection and evaluation.

”Migration experience is a big life change”, says IOM Budapest Chief of Mission Magdalena Majkowska-Tomkin. “The importance of preparation for this change cannot be underestimated. Up-to-date information, understanding of the labor market, host society culture and available support structures in the country of destination before departure can hugely contribute to successful migration outcomes.”

IOM has several decades of experience in the worldwide provision of various types of pre-departure information and training to labour and family migrants, but also to refugees within the resettlement context. In particular, in the latter category a wealth of knowledge exists on the good practices of delivery of pre-departure integration support, but also on the impact of such assistance in countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States. On average, IOM provides pre-departure orientation to over 40,000 migrants annually, in over 50 countries.

The project is undertaken in partnership with the World Association of Public Employment Services (WAPES) and authorities in charge of integration issues in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia, and co-financed by the European Union Integration Fund, as well as Ministries of Interior of Italy and Austria.

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The HEADSTART project website features information and deliverables from the various project components, most prominently the Comparative Report and the practitioner's library with good practice case studies, Migrant Resource Center (MRC) Handbook as well as the ongoing virtual marketplace for service providers. Click on image to visit the website.


The network of Migrant Service Centres provides information, advice and referral services to migrants and potential migrants in Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo under UNSCR1244. Click on image to visit the website.


The multilingual Volret website, which is accessible in eight languages – Albanian, English, French, Persian, Serbian, Vietnamese, Urdu and Mongolian – provides information on voluntary return and reintegration options for migrants who wish to return to their home countries from Hungary. Click on image to visit the website.