Migrant Integration

Since the 1950s IOM has implemented programmes that assist Member States with the integration of migrants as a key to effective and comprehensive migration management. While the term “integration” can be understood differently depending on the country and context, it is generally defined as the process of mutual adaptation between host society and migrant. It implies a sense of obligation and respect for a core set of values that bind migrants and their host communities to a common purpose. Integration is essential for all stakeholders, not only as a way of providing economic and cultural benefits but also for ensuring the security and stability of societies as a whole.

One of the main challenges of creating an effective integration policy is to make sure that it intersects with other major policy areas, including the protection of migrants’ human rights and equal opportunities, employment and labour-market issues, regional development, national security, social cohesion, public health, education, and naturalization and citizenship issues. IOM works with government, non-government and private sector stakeholders to address specific integration challenges, and to develop joint policy strategies and identify concrete support measures.

IOM’s Vision
IOM supports policies and strategies that promote the social, economic and cultural inclusion of migrants within existing legal frameworks in countries of destination. Its focus is on the development of strategies that help migrants better integrate into new communities as well as assisting receiving communities to recognize the positive contributions that migrants can make. This two-way integration process is essential for the existence of thriving, multicultural communities.

IOM’s Objectives
In keeping with IOM’s vision for successful migrant integration, the Organization’s programmes may include a range of components:

  • Social inclusion of migrants and marginalized groups, including increased access of migrants to public services;
  • Information about migration through established Migrant Resource Centres;
  • Capacity-building and training, including pre-departure orientation and post-arrival language training;
  • Awareness-raising, media training and educational curriculum development;  anti-xenophobia campaigns and inter-faith training;
  • Policy development; and 
  • Research and analysis projects aimed at improving existing migrant integration programmes.

Migrants who are integrated successfully into receiving societies have accumulated capital and acquired new knowledge and skills, and are often well-placed to contribute to the development of their countries of origin. With these goals in mind, IOM’s programmes encourage measures that support the participation of migrants in public life, such as their inclusion in consultative bodies at both the national and local levels and their engagement in civil society.

In the field of economic participation, IOM works to combat workplace and recruitment discrimination, not only through direct work with migrants, but also through interventions that raise the awareness of private sector employers. Programmes designed to promote social inclusion are implemented for the whole spectrum of migrant beneficiaries, including youth, unaccompanied minors, asylum seekers and resettled refugees. Practical, online resources and training sessions with selected experts in migrant education on diversity training and second-language theory have proven to be excellent ways of addressing the specific needs of migrant children and youth. IOM also works closely with migrant leaders, including with religious leaders, through interfaith trainings designed to empower community leaders in their role to promote the process of integration.

IOM’s presence, as of June 2012, in 464 field locations across more than 150 countries, allows for an integration continuum that links pre- and post-arrival activities for maximum effectiveness.

Principle Beneficiaries
In order to address integration challenges, IOM’s partners include    government agencies at national and local levels, employers, trade unions, educational institutions, media, ethnic community representatives, and migrant organizations. We offer technical support to these stakeholders through trainings, workshops, advisory services, and other capacity-building initiatives, drawing on a range of integration models and best practices gained through field experience.

IOM’s Approach
IOM takes a comprehensive approach to migrant integration in order to ensure that migrants can fully engage with their host society from a socio-economic, political, and cultural perspective. Programmes are tailored to take into account migrant characteristics such as gender, age, duration of stay, and overall economic and societal trends in the receiving country. IOM draws from a wide variety of integration practices developed by national governments and builds on them for the benefit of other countries with similar goals. Most existing practices and models of successful integration are adapted from either European countries or traditional destination countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, although the growing importance of South-South migration provides an opportunity for the development of practices that can respond to related integration challenges. Programmes are monitored regularly and their impact and relevance evaluated. 

Featured Projects

Migrants in the Spotlight – Migration and Media
Geographical Coverage: Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia

IOM integration projects contribute to sensitive and responsible media coverage of immigration and migration issues. The Migrants in the Spotlight (MIST) initiative sought to improve media understanding of migration and integration in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia. The initiative created an EU-wide competition and showcase for migration-related documentaries and articles produced by students of media and social sciences, offered internship and mentorship opportunities for young migrant journalists, and organized twelve training seminars for mixed groups of native and migrant media professionals, led by IOM specialists and journalists with expertise in migration issues. With the support of the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, MIST also put together an international conference, held in Budapest in May 2011, entitled “Promoting Migrant Integration through Media and Intercultural Dialogue”. The event gathered migration, integration and media stakeholders from the six project countries, as well as representatives of EU institutions, and provided a forum for discussion of best practices in reporting on intercultural and migration issues.

European Local Cooperation for Integration (ELCI)
Geographic Coverage: France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland
Migrant organizations in countries of destination can play a crucial role in the integration process, thanks to their in-depth knowledge of the cultural norms and customs of their respective communities. Following IOM’s vision for two-way integration, ELCI’s goal was to facilitate relations between migrant organizations and local and national authorities in EU member states and to encourage relevant authorities to involve those organizations in their integration strategies. The programme assessed the role that migrant associations already play in local-level integration policy-making and carried out a comparative study of  migrant organization activity in France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. IOM implemented training sessions for local and regional integration authorities aimed at enhancing their understanding of European integration principles, as well as organized trans-national video conference meetings that encouraged the sharing of best practices. The final project was a 30-minute video comparing integration strategies across the EU. This video, completed in May 2012, will be distributed to the governments of common countries of origin for migrants to the EU and will be offered for publication on the European Website of Integration.

Integration – A Multifaith Approach (IAMA)
Geographical Coverage: Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Germany, the United Kingdom

European societies have woken up to the realization that the basic values of liberty, democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedomsare not always taken for granted or interpreted similarly by all groups within society. Civic education targeted at groups that are particularly underprivileged, such as immigrants, may help to develop and secure awareness and respect. As religious groups and communities often play an important role in the integration process of newly arrived migrants, working with religious leaders of migrant communities may help to foster integration and a sense of belonging. With that end in mind, IAMA, a pilot project and the first multi-faith civic education programme undertaken in the EU, offered civic education for religious leaders from third countries. IOM provided assistance for outreach, media initiatives, “train the trainers” sessions, community training seminars, and the development of the curricula for those seminars. The emphases of these curricula took into account the specific social and political context of each country but included units on education, employment, history and culture, religion, political participation, immigration, the media, and asylum issues. The project was considered a success by all stakeholders, and a follow-up project, taking into account feedback from the pilot, has been recommended in order to encourage grassroots interfaith dialogue and tolerance across Europe.