The project on “Stocktaking of international pre-integration measures and recommendations for action aimed at their implementation in Germany“ was co-funded half-and-half by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees and by the European Integration Fund (EIF)1. The aim was to improve the state of knowledge and awareness in Germany about internationally practised preparatory measures and to perform a needs assessment in the context of migration to Germany. Based on the above, recommendations for action were developed for the German government in respect of potential preparatory measures for migrants from third (non-EU) countries. The implementation of the project was taken over by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). IOM is an inter-governmental organisation which conducts aid programmes for migrants2 at the national and international level. With over 400 offices in 130 countries, IOM is the largest global offerer of preparatory measures for migrants.
According to the definition adopted by EIF, the term ”pre-integration measures“ refers to the preparation of new immigrants from third countries for their target country. Such measures are conducted in the immigrant’s country of origin itself. The significance of pre-integration measures lies in the opportunity they present of laying a foundation stone for successful integration in the host society even before the entry of the immigrants into the host country. Especially in view of the initial few months in the new homeland, the social competences of the migrants can be strengthened and problems can be anticipated in this way. This contributes towards making the migration and integration process as smooth as possible which, in turn, makes it easier for the immigrants to find their way in the society of the host country.
In Germany, subsequent immigration of family members currently constitutes the largest group of immigrants from non-EU countries. The most important countries of origin are Turkey, the Russian Federation and the nations of former Yugoslavia. One of the requirements of the project was, thus, the development of preparatory measures which would especially take into account the needs of the immigrants from these regions.
On the German side, the language courses offered by the Goethe institute for a fee are the only activity until now which can be described as a pre-integration measure. Since the introduction of a compulsory proof of basic knowledge of the German language in the year 2005 within the framework of subsequent immigration of family members, these courses are offered in the concerned countries of origin as a preparation for the respective test. This measure is not only criticised primarily by the Turkish government, but also by German charitable and migrant organisations, since this measure is perceived to be discriminating (see 3.5). Therefore, it was not completely possible to separate the continuing debate about compulsory language test from the discussion of potential preparatory measures for third-country nationals which was the focus of this project.