Belkis, Social worker/Cultural mediator
Sofia, Bulgaria
4,066 kms from home
Read more
<strong>Mohammed Ali</strong>
Mohammed Ali, Stonecutter
Sofia, Bulgaria
1,725 kms from home
Read more
Khairi, Journalist, Translator, Writer
Sofia, Bulgaria
1,630 kms from home
Read more
Linda, Cultural mediator/Volunteer
Sofia, Bulgaria
2,742 kms from home
Read more



Bulgaria is strategically located in the South Eastern corner of the European Union, being one of the gates into Europe along the Balkan and the East Mediterranean migration routes. Prior to 2013, the country was not a preferred entry or transit destination for migrants. Since June 2013, however, the situation in Bulgaria has dynamically changed with regard to the number of undocumented migrants. The majority of undocumented migrants who arrive in Bulgaria try to continue their journey to destination countries in North and Western Europe. 

Most undocumented migrants who are detected by the Border Police initiate a procedure for seeking international protection. In recent years there has been a constant increase in the number of migrants seeking international protection. For 2015 and 2016 the top five countries are Iraq; Afghanistan; Syria; Pakistan; and Iran. Worthy of note is the increase in 2015 and 2016 of the number of Afghan citizens who represent over 46 percent of the total number of migrants detected by Border Police for 2016 and 40 percent of the new asylum seekers for 2016.

Migrant Assistance

Support for voluntary return and reintegration of undocumented third-country nationals residing in Bulgaria

Since 2009 IOM Sofia has carried out 16 Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programs during which the following key results have been achieved:

  • A number of awareness raising campaigns were carried out providing information on voluntary return through leaflets, posters and TV spots to over 54,000 undocumented migrants and asylum seekers in Bulgaria.
  • 1,352 migrants were individually informed and counselled as regards voluntary return options
  • 737 undocumented migrants were effectively supported in their voluntary return in safety and dignity
  • 222 of the voluntary returnees were provided with reintegration assistance


  • Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) through the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior

Provision of information and counselling for voluntary return

The programme assists undocumented third country nationals (TCNs) staying in Bulgaria. The project activities consist of providing information and counselling on possibilities for voluntary return to TCNs, including rejected asylum seekers and persons provided with international protection. 


  • Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) through the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior


This programme has been the main focus of IOM Sofia from 1999 to 2010. IOM Sofia has supported substantially the establishment of the Bulgarian counter-trafficking system, with IOM as the key counterpart of the National Counter-Trafficking Commission and of the Government of Bulgaria on counter-trafficking. IOM’s support includes:

  • Development of the National Counter-Trafficking Legislation
  • Formation of the National and Local Counter-Trafficking Commissions
  • Refurbishment and equipment of the National Commission’s Offices
  • Development of the national official counter-trafficking website
  • Establishment of the Permanent Working Group under the Counter-Trafficking Commission, of which IOM Sofia’s Head of Office is a regular member
  • Development and implementation of the Annual Counter Trafficking National Action Plans

Other achievements of IOM Sofia in the area of counter-trafficking include:

  • Organizing multiple national counter trafficking information campaigns, educational campaigns in schools, and outreach activities in vulnerable communities
  • Assisting with capacity building at national and regional levels in government and civil society
  • Extending direct assistance to victims of trafficking (VOTs) by supporting the return and reintegration of VOTs – 50 to 80 cases annually (15 to 30 cases annually after EU accession); over 900 cases altogether
  • Assisting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) with the development of the National Mechanism for Consular Support of Bulgarian Nationals Abroad (an official internal regulation of the MFA) in 2004
  • Supporting the development of the National Coordinated Mechanism for Return and Assistance to Child Victims of Trafficking, which was officially adopted by the Government of Bulgaria in 2005 and revised in 2010.


  • Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) through the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior


Immigration and Border Management

Integrated Border Management

A cooperation program aiming to build the capacity of the government in border management is being implemented by IOM missions in Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria.


  • IPA


Labour and Facilitated Migration

Migrant Integration Programme

Under its migrant integration programme, IOM Sofia has established Integration Information Migration Centers in key locations in Bulgaria which help migrants to successfully integrate into Bulgarian society. It has also conducted integration information days within the country targeting third country nationals residing legally in Bulgaria. A specialized integration website and specialized integration hotline have also been established.


  • EU Integration Fund, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Canadian Visa Application Center

On 6 August 2013 IOM Sofia opened a Canadian Visa Application Center to process all temporary visa applications and provide medical services for Bulgarian nationals going to Canada.


Migration Health

Migration Health Programme

The EQUI HEALTH project aims to improve the access and quality of health services, health promotion and prevention to meet the needs of migrants, the Roma and other vulnerable ethnic minority groups, including irregular migrants residing in the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA). The three-year initiative was launched in February 2013 by the Migration Health Division of IOM’s Regional Office for the European Economic Area in Brussels.


Last updated:
Main text: July 2016
Facts and figures: February 2016

Population (2015):7.1 million
Area:110,994 km sq
Languages :Bulgarian
Currency:Bulgarian Lev (BGN)
GDP per Capita PPP (2014):USD 16,324
HDI Rank (2014):59 of 188
Remittances (2014 estimate):USD 1,719 million
Net Migration Rate (2015-2020):-1.4 migrants/1,000 population
Immigrants (2015):1.4%
Women as a Percentage of Immigrants (2015):53.5%
Population under 15 (2015):14.1%
Adult HIV Prevalence (2014):not available

International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

77 Tsar Asen Str.
Sofia 1463

Tel: +359.2 939 47 74
Fax: +359.2 939 47 88
Hot Line: +359.2 939 47 77


Email: [email protected]
Country Website: http://www.iom.bg/