The purpose of return assistance is to foster the voluntary and mandatory return of rejected asylum seekers through a system of benefits.
The Federal Office for Migration (FOM) implements these programmes in conjunction with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the competent cantonal agencies and relief organizations.
Any person from the field of asylum may apply to the advisory centres in the cantons, the reception centres and in airport transit for return assistance. Even persons who have been granted refugee status may receive assistance if they would like to return to their home country.
However, return assistance is not granted to convicted offenders or to persons who have misused the asylum system either during or after proceedings.
Certain groups of persons falling in the category "foreign nationals" also have access to return assistance. These groups include victims and witnesses of human trafficking, and cabaret dancers who are being exploited in Switzerland.
With the help of the SDC, the FOM implements as a part measure structural aid programmes in the countries of origin which benefit the local population and the returnees alike. Such programmes include projects to prevent irregular migration (PiM) with the aim of making a short-term contribution to limiting irregular migration.