In case the foreigner is no longer afraid to return to his/her country of origin, as the reasons that made him/her flee no longer exist, he/she can receive support and help for voluntarily return.

Voluntary return can take place both during the procedure and after its completion, irrespective of the result – a status granted or refused.

In case the foreigner has received a final refusal of a status and protection in Bulgaria, he/she is advised to consider the possibility of voluntary return to the country of origin. Using this possibility is particularly imperative if the fear of persecution no longer exists, as after all the options for appeal before the court are exhausted, the foreigner loses his/her right to stay on the territory of Bulgaria and may be detained and deported by the immigration police. This coercive measure of deportation is accompanied by the imposition of a prohibition from further entry, the so-called “black stamp”; the time period of this prohibition is up to 5 years in cases of deportation or up to 10 years in cases of expulsion on the grounds of a threat to national security. Prohibition is not imposed if the foreigner takes action to ensure his/her voluntary return to his/her country of origin.

In order to start the voluntary return procedure the foreigner has to file an application to the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Interior (MDMI). If the foreigner does not have a valid passport or money to travel, he/she may approach the MDMI for assistance. The MDMI will contact the embassy of the state whose citizen the foreigner is and will ensure the issuance of a substitute document, called a laissez-passez.

Assistance in terms of documents and tickets can also be ensured by the International Organisation of Migation (IOM). Furthermore, IOM has programmes providing financial support for voluntary return, as well as assistance for reintegration after returning into the country of origin. Reintegration measures may include:

  • medical care and buying medication;
  • psycho-social or medical support;
  • education for children;
  • retraining courses and career counselling;
  • consultations and financial support if the returnee presents a small business start-up plan;
  • other measures supporting successful reintegration.