Counselling

Virtual Counselling

What is Virtual Counselling?

icon/ic-play
icon/ic-volume

Virtual counselling is an online counselling service for migrants living in Germany who are interested in voluntarily returning to their countries of origin. The counselling takes place online and is conducted by IOM return counsellors. IOM counsellors are based in 19 countries. They speak the language of the relevant country in any given case, provide information about the situation in the countries of origin, and advise on voluntary return and reintegration programmes.

How can counsellors from the Virtual Counselling Team be contacted?

icon/ic-play
icon/ic-volume

Counsellors can be contacted through various online messenger services like WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook or Skype. The contact details can be found on the relevant pages for the countries.

ZIRF-Counselling

What is ZIRF counselling?

icon/ic-play
icon/ic-volume

The ZIRF counselling project is an information service which provides the latest advice on any individual destination country based on research at local level. The aim is to provide counselling centres with support by way of information for migrants about the specific countries to which they want to return. This is intended to facilitate individual decisions as to whether voluntary return is an option.

This project comes under the umbrella of the Information Centre for Voluntary Return (Zentralstelle für Informationsvermittlung zur Rückkehrförderung - ZIRF). It is a two-pronged project comprising the individual requests and the fact sheets on the various countries.

What are ZIRF individual requests?

icon/ic-play
icon/ic-volume

One part of the ZIRF counselling project is the service in respect of ZIRF individual requests. Authorised agencies in Germany have the opportunity to submit individual requests to the ZIRF counselling team about the situation on the ground. Questions might be asked on the following subjects: medical care, labour market, housing situation, education, social issues, possible avenues of support for vulnerable groups. The relevant research is then conducted by IOM staff at local level. A family assessment can also be conducted for unaccompanied minors from migrant families.

Who can submit a ZIRF request?

icon/ic-play
icon/ic-volume

A request can only be made by a return counselling centre authorised to make ZIRF requests. The right to make requests is granted by the federal states as they each see fit. The information as to whether a centre is authorised to make requests can be found in the advice published on the portal by the relevant counselling centre.

How do I submit a ZIRF request?

icon/ic-play
icon/ic-volume

A ZIRF request can be submitted through the Online Application Module (OAM) by bodies with the relevant ZIRF authorisation. The exact instructions for submitting a request can be found in the tutorials on the ZIRF counselling page. These are available in German.

Where can I find requests that have already been answered?

icon/ic-play
icon/ic-volume

Individual requests which have already been answered are held in anonymous form in the ZIRF database and can be viewed there. The ZIRF database can be found in the footer and on the “ZIRF counselling” page.

What is a family assessment?

icon/ic-play
icon/ic-volume

The IOM offers a family assessment in cases where unaccompanied minors from migrant families may want to return voluntarily. The IOM will contact the relatives in the relevant country and visit them there. The purpose of this is to confirm the welfare of the child in ensuring the best interests of the child. Another aim is to help the legal guardian to make the decision regarding the possible voluntary return of the child.

Information is gathered during a family assessment, with a focus on the socio-economic situation, the living conditions, and on the size, constitution and dynamics of the family in the destination country. Other factors under scrutiny include access to education and medical care as well as the willingness of the legal guardian in the destination country to take in the child. Checks are also carried out to verify the identity of the child’s legal guardian in the destination country.

Further information on the family assessment can be found on the “ZIRF counselling” page.

What documents are required to apply for a family assessment?

icon/ic-play
icon/ic-volume

Before a request can be made, information about the child and the respective family circumstances in the country of destination must be obtained from the relevant return counselling centre. It is particularly important to be aware of certain risk factors and to look out for unusual circumstances. These might include forced marriage and human trafficking, for example, but there might also be cases where the parents remain in the FRG and the returning migrants are particularly young. Other documents required include the application form and papers providing proof of identity of the child, of the legal guardian in Germany, and of the person who will care for the child in the destination country. It is important to provide the address, telephone number and, where applicable, the email address of the person in the destination country so that they can be contacted.

What are Country-Fact-Sheets?

icon/ic-play
icon/ic-volume

Country-Fact-Sheets contain information on the following subjects of relevance to those returning: health care, labour market, housing, social services, education, specific support facilities, and children in the return process. They are also called CFS. This abbreviation stands for country fact sheet. These can be found on the individual country pages.