International Organization for Migration





IOM seeks to direct the power of migration towards the social and economic development of society and the individual migrant. IOM is therefore committed to promoting the international dialogue in the field of migration, by seeking to create constructive partnerships between the countries of origin and the host countries of migrants.

IOM Migration and Development programs include improving the management of financial flows generated by migration, including the financial resources, sent by migrants to their families in their home countries, building human capital through labor migration programs, return and reintegration of qualified professionals, capacity-building of governments and special support for migrant women. In order, to strengthen the administrative and managerial capacities of governments, IOM conducts studies of migration realities as a basis for the establishment of adequate programs in the field of migration and development


Mobility is a characteristic feature of the modern world. The emergence of integrated global markets and international communities and the rapid development of communication technologies contribute to the increasing movement of high and low-skilled, students, trainees, families, tourists and other categories of persons.

The demographic and social structure, influenced by the rapid pace of the industrialization in the world, creates a need for hiring workers and professionals from other countries to meet the needs of the local labor market. Labor migration creates some challenges for host countries, but economies that want to remain competitive cannot ignore the need for a foreign workforce. Facilitating the regular labor migration could be a successful solution for both countries of origin and host countries.

IOM provides technical assistance to governments to regulate labour migration and other migration processes, and implements programs to help governments and migrants select and recruit specific categories of labour migrants, depending on the supply and demand, language education and cultural orientation, consular services, medical care, training, reception, integration and return of migrants, social integration and others.

These services, tailored to the requirements of each program, are provided through all phases of the migration process: preliminary information and application, interviewing and selection, and overall assistance for migrants in the post-approval process of their position in the respective country. As part of the logistical support and assistance provided to migrants, globally, IOM has carried out over 1.5 million immigration medical examinations for migrants around the world.


IOM assists governments in the development and implementation of migration policy, legislation and administrative mechanisms in the field of migration regulation, aiming at counteracting irregular migration and facilitating regular migration. IOM provides technical support and training for civil servants working in the field of migration, for effective border management, compliance with visa regimes, regulation of the entry and stay of third-country nationals, collection and use of biometric information to ensure effective control and implementation of the current migration legislation.

IOM implements programs to counteract trafficking and trade in human beings, including prevention, capacity-building activities for institutions and the civil society, and assistance to victims. Moreover, IOM implements programs which facilitate the voluntary return and reintegration of displaced persons and other migrants, taking into account the needs of individual communities.


Refugees and displaced persons are a distinct category of "people on the move", deserving special attention. IOM is actively assisting refugee and displaced persons during and after crisis situations, as was the case in Kosovo, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, the floods in Southeast Asia, the earthquake in Indonesia and others. The IOM also facilitates the resettlement each year of thousands of refugees and migrants for whom resettlement in a new country is the approved durable solution.

IOM helps to find solutions for internally displaced persons, former combatants, victims of ethnic engineering and populations in transition or recovery environments. It also locates and assists widely scattered voters to enable them to take part in elections and referenda of their countries of origin. The IOM has large programs and acknowledged expertise in settling issues, related to post-war claims and compensation of different categories of persons in migration.


Research and analysis are important factors for raising the awareness and understanding of migration realities and challenges. They provide the basis for developing an effective migration policy and sustainable practical approaches. Providing information to institutions and the public on trends in migration processes, challenges and opportunities is a key function of the organization. Studies and publications of IOM provide a better understanding of migration issues. The Global Migration Indicators Report, developed by IOM, provides a two-year overview of major migration trends and problems around the world. The 2005 report focuses on the benefits and challenges of international migration and can be found on the organization's website

IOM plays an increasingly important role in international migration legislation, particularly in the compilation, dissemination, understanding and application of international migration instruments in the field of migration. As part of its work in managing the migration processes, the organization implements training and capacity-building programs, jointly with state institutions and other partners. Respect for the rights and dignity of migrants and migration-related health issues is a key component of all IOM activities.

Regular consultations between governments addressing common migration challenges play an important role in the IOM migration management strategy. IOM provides essential support for regional consultative processes in America, Europe, Africa and the Pacific region. These mechanisms strengthen international co-operation, present opportunities for exchange of information and experience, build trust and create an international dialogue on topics of mutual interest.

On a global level, the “International Migration Dialogue” of the IOM Council is the principal international forum for intergovernmental dialogue on migration policy that facilitates coordination and cooperation on migration issues.

Besides the main activities, IOM also performs the following interconnected activities in the field of migration:

  • Technical cooperation and capacity-building of the institutions;
  • Protecting the rights of migrants within the international legal framework in the field of migration;
  • Research and analysis;
  • Regional and international cooperation;
  • Information campaigns and prevention;
  • Trafficking in human beings;
  • Migration and health;
  • Integration and reintegration of migrants;



Since 1999, the IOM mission in Bulgaria has been developing programs for anti-trafficking, which include prevention, victim protection and capacity-building of institutions. To date, IOM has helped over 2000 Bulgarian victims of human trafficking. In 2017 alone, more than 75 Bulgarians have received support from IOM Bulgaria, including help for return to Bulgaria and reintegration. Information campaigns for migrant and refugees were also carried out, concerning the risks and protection measures associated with smuggling and trafficking in human beings.

IOM’s counter-trafficking team provides professional assistance to victims of trafficking in persons using a comprehensive approach that respects the human rights and well-being of the victim. We also work in partnership with governmental agencies and other non-governmental organisations to strengthen the national capacity in counter-trafficking through institutional capacity development and partnerships.


The target groups of our work in against traffic in human beings includes:

  • Bulgarian citizens, who have been identified as victims of trafficking in human beings outside the borders of Republic of Bulgaria. Bulgarian citizens identified as victims within the country could also be supported.
  • Foreign citizens, who have been identified as victims of trafficking in human beings in the territory of Republic of Bulgaria.


Services provided include, but are not limited to:

  • Return assistance to the country of origin of the identified victims of human trafficking.
  • Reintegration assistance for the victims of trafficking after their return to help them achieve sustainable reintegration.
  • Counselling and information provision.
  • Legal counselling.
  • Psychological counselling.
  • Need and risk assessment.
  • Safe and secure transportation.
  • Medical care.
  • Humanitarian support package.
  • Social assistance.
  • Employment counselling.
  • Vocational training and school insertion.
  • Monitoring and follow-up of victims.
  • Witness protection services: securing a safe environment and protection of witnesses on human trafficking cases.
  • Other consultations and services according to the specific needs of the victims.


IOM operates a counter-trafficking hotline (+359 (2) 93 94 777), which provides with information, consultations and assistance to victims of traffic in human beings, as well as vulnerable persons and potential victims of traffic.


You can contact our counter-trafficking team via telephone at +359 (2) 93-94-713 and via e-mail at The team is located at the IOM office at Tzar Asen № 77 str. Sofia 1463.


The program includes support for third-country nationals (TCNs) wishing to return to their country of origin and reintegration assistance for the most vulnerable among them. In 2017, IOM Bulgaria assisted 900 citizens of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Mongolia, Nepal and other countries to return home (incl. 90 reintegration’s of vulnerable persons).

IOM Bulgaria’s AVRR team regularly provides assistance for voluntary return and reintegration to migrants who decide to return in their countries of origin, as well as increases the awareness of the migrant groups of the programme for assisted voluntary return and reintegration.


The target groups of our assisted voluntary return and reintegration programme include:

  • Asylum seekers and migrants granted with international protection.
  • Rejected asylum seekers.
  • Irregular migrants.


  • Individual consultations with migrants on the AVRR programme.
  • Support for obtaining necessary travel documents.
  • Providing flight ticket to the country of origin.
  • Transport to Sofia Airport for departure and support at airport authorities.
  • Medical help and/or examination for vulnerable persons before departure if necessary.
  • Providing cash grant to every voluntary returnee amounting to 100 euro which could be increased to 150 euro in vulnerable cases.
  • Providing in kind assistance for reintegration after return to the home country of up to EUR 1000 (EUR 2000 for vulnerable persons and EUR 2000 for families).
  • Providing escort for unaccompanied migrant children or other vulnerable returnees by IOM officer to the country of origin.
  • Transit assistance by IOM officer.
  • Assistance upon arrival by IOM officer from IOM mission in the respective country of origin.
  • Assistance for implementation of reintegration measures in the respective country of origin.


You can contact our AVRR team via telephone at +359 (2) 93-94-774 and via e-mail at The AVRR office is located at Tzar Asen № 77 str. Sofia 1463.


IOM Bulgaria’s mobile teams, each comprising a social worker, а psychologist and а legal counsellor, provide regular professional support and consultations to the following target groups: 

  • Applicants for and beneficiaries of international protection accommodated in the Registration and Reception Centres (RRCs) of the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) in Harmanli and Sofia.
  • Migrants detained in the Special Homes for the Temporary Accommodation of Foreigners (SHTAF) managed by the Ministry of Interior’s Migration Directorate in Busmantsi and Lyubimets.
  • Migrants detained in the Kazichene Minimum Security Prison (MSP) managed by the Ministry of Justice’s General Directorate for the Execution of Sentences (GDES).


Services provided include, but are not limited to: 

  • One-on-one legal, psychological and social consultations and case-specific follow-up support.
  • Improving migrant access to healthcare by purchasing medicines for eligible migrants; transporting and accompanying vulnerable migrants to healthcare facilities; and providing logistical support and interpretation services to migrants and healthcare workers.
  • Assisting eligible migrants in finding legal employment in Bulgaria.
  • Cultural mediation and interpretation.
  • Group information sessions and presentations on a variety of topics related to migrants’ legal rights and obligations; general health, wellbeing, nutrition and hygiene; Bulgarian culture, etc.
  • Distribution of humanitarian aid (hygiene kits, clothing and footwear, children’s toys).
  • Organisation of various sport, art and culinary initiatives.


Our mobile teams work with certified interpreters and translators from Arabic, Bulgarian, Dari, English, Farsi, French, Kurdish, Pashto, Russian, Turkish and Urdu.


Telephone, WhatsApp and Viber: +359 (0) 884 602 185; +359 (0) 884 605 184; +359 (0) 892 212 194.

Landline: +359 (0) 2 93 94 774.



In the table below you can find our mobile teams’ weekly schedule in Sofia*. In addition, our mobile teams visit Harmanli RRC for 2 to 3 days per week on a weekly or fortnightly basis, and schedule ad-hoc pre-arranged visits to Lyubimets SHTAF and Kazichene MSP depending on demand.

Mobile Protection Teams Schedule






IOM Central Office

10:00-12:00 – Vrazhdebna RRC

10:00-12:00 – Voenna Rampa RRC

10:00-12:00 – Voenna Rampa RRC

10:00-14:00 – Busmantsi SHTAF


IOM Central Office

14:00-16:00 – Voenna Rampa RRC

14:00-16:00 – Ovcha Kupel RRC

14:00-16:00 – Ovcha Kupel RRC

14:00-16:00 – Ovcha Kupel RRC

*Our working hours may change from time to time depending on demand, availability and other external circumstances. We maintain mobile team presence in our central office at all times during working hours (09:00-18:00), and mobile team members are often on duty at external locations, such as hospitals and other medical facilities.


IOM Bulgaria offers individual consultations to unaccompanied migrant children and refugees, family reunifications and the preparation of information materials on children's rights and obligations. By the end of 2017, more than 50 unaccompanied children received legal, psychological or social assistance at the RCC Harmanli, organized excursions and various discussions. In this program, the IOM reunified two families, by organizing for the first time in Bulgaria the issue of travel documents for aliens for the purposes of family reunification on the territory of the country.


IOM Bulgaria implements a program for the protection of vulnerable persons with a focus on improving the living conditions in the centers of the State Agency for Refugees (SAR). The activities include:

  • a team of translators of rare languages;
  • repair services of SAR registration and reception centers (RRCs);
  • trainings;
  • donations, incl. clothes and hygienic materials;
  • organizing meetings;
  • information sessions and campaigns;

One of the main services provided by IOM Bulgaria, is field work by three mobile teams (social worker, psychologist and lawyer), who conduct consultations with migrants and persons seeking international protection at the SAR centers and the Migration Directorate at the Ministry of Interior, information sessions on topics such as rights and obligations, good hygiene practices, etc., assess the needs / vulnerability and distribute donations. In 2017, mobile teams have conducted over 1,500 consultations with over 500 individuals, have purchased medicines and/or have paid medical expenses to over 100 destitute migrants. In the framework of this program and in order to strengthen the capacity of national institutions and NGOs, in 2017 IOM Bulgaria organized trainings on the following topics:

  • intercultural competence;
  • psycho-social and health support;
  • working with vulnerable migrants and persons seeking international protection;
  • identification and targeting of victims of trafficking among persons seeking international protection;
  • working with unaccompanied migrant children and refugees

More than 300 representatives of national institutions and NGOs participated in the trainings.


IOM interviewers conduct interviews with migrants and persons seeking international protection at the SAR Centers and the Migration Directorate at the Ministry of Interior. In 2017, more than 2000 people were interviewed within two components of the programme.

The information gathered allows for a better understanding of the difficulties and challenges migrants go through and aims at planning the activities relevant to the successful management of the migration processes.


IOM Bulgaria runs the Canada Visa Centre (CANVAC), which opened on August 6th, 2013. Documents for the application of temporary visas and permits for Canada by Bulgarian and foreign citizens residing on the territory of Bulgaria are received at the CANVAC located in the building of the mission's head office in Sofia.

In 2017, the new less restrictive conditions for travel of Bulgarian citizens to Canada came into force. This change eliminated the requirement to apply for a Tourist visa for short stay in Canada (the main line of applications in Bulgaria) and its replacement with eTA - Electronic Travel Authorization for visa-exempt foreign nationals passing through or arriving on Canadian territory by air.

The Visa Centre in Sofia retains its functions after the entry into force of the less restrictive regime for Bulgarian citizens by taking over the flow of foreign citizens residing on the territory of the country in their applications for temporary visas and permits, as well as assisting applications for eTA, work and student permits to Bulgarian and foreign citizens, including the application of a biometric protocol as required by the Canadian Government.