Skip to main content

Repository of Practices

Migration Counselling for Adult Immigrants (MBE)

Primary GCM Objectives

Secondary GCM Objectives


GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


2005 - Present

Type of practice


Geographic scope



Sub Regions:


The Federal Government of Germany is funding the Migration Counselling MBE as an additional offer to the integration courses, for adult immigrants, from 27 years old on and for their family members. The counselling is implemented by the non-statutory welfare organisations and the Federation of Expellees and their social workers and advisers. The MBE focuses on migrants, who received a residence permit or will stay probably in Germany for longer than a year. In general, the offer is limited up to three years. The counselling is temporary and individual, the key activity is an individual case management process. The MBE is intended to initiate, manage, and support the integration process of adult immigrants. The MBE aims to support and empower the immigrants and enable them to organise their life in Germany on their own and independently. The immigrants can benefit from this offer by choice and for free.

Since many MBE counsellors and social workers often have a migration background themselves, they are in many cases able to speak the language of advice-seekers. Additionally, MBE counsellors always have an opportunity to use the services of translators and video interpreters in order to ensure that all groups of advice-seekers, regardless of  their language skills, have access to the migration counselling.

The MBE counselling is complimentary to integration courses (German language courses), so that many migrants learn about the counselling through these courses or through the counsellors at the Job Center or other official institutions. Moreover, the MBE organizations and counsellors use flyers and social media as well as other communication channels to proactively inform advice-seekers about their services. In many cases the information is passed by word of mouth.   


Main Implementing Organization(s)

Government of Germany

Detailed Information

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)

Partner/Donor Organizations

Workers' Welfare Association - Arbeiterwohlfahrt
German Caritas Association - Deutscher Caritasverband
German Protestant Agency for Diakonie and Development - Diakonie Deutschland-Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung
German Red Cross - Deutsches Rotes Kreuz
German Parity Welfare Association - Deutscher Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband
Central Welfare Board of Jews in Germany - Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle der Juden in Deutschland
Federation of Expellees - Bund der Vertriebenen

Benefit and Impact

The wellbeing of migrants is enhanced by providing them fundamental and instructive information about the integration process in Germany. The MBE is an extensive counselling programme appropriate to provide immigrants the information about e.g.:

- Legal questions about residence
- Learning the German language (e.g. participating in an integration course)
- Education and vocational training (e.g. schooling, training, career paths, recognition of professional qualifications)
- Employment (e.g. writing job applications, looking for jobs)
- Financial situation (e.g. income, loans, debts)
- Housing (e.g. looking for a place to live, financing an apartment)
- Health (e.g. health insurance, medical care)
- Personal health situation (e.g. health problems)
- Marriage, family and upbringing (e.g. pregnancy)
- Mobility and transport (e.g. driving licence, public transport)
- Recreation, sports and leisure (e.g. accessible facilities, club memberships)
- Everyday activities (e.g. shopping, contact with local authorities)

The MBE works together with all relevant stakeholders on the local level, to find the right authorities and organisation for solving the challenges the immigrants are facing. For the recognition of professional qualifications the clients are sent e.g. to the authorized counselling offices.

The counselling of the MBE is covering a broad range from answering short question until the long time case management up to three years.

300.000 people per year are benefiting from the counselling and around 500.000 in total including family members.

Key Lessons

The immigrants are not obliged to seek counselling by the MBE, it is seen as an advantage for the immigrants and the mutual trust between them and their counsellors. On the other hand, it makes it more difficult to measure the impact of the programme, since many migrants aren’t coming back to the MBE, as soon as their problems are solved and they can manage their life on their own.

Since the MBE covers a broad range of subjects it is important to provide the counsellors permanent training for case management, right of residence, crisis intervention, and a variety of other topics. Many German welfare organisations run own colleges or in-house training centers, so they can offer these trainings on their own.

The MBE counselling has not been closed during the challenge of the coronavirus crisis, but in-person services have been reduced to a minimum and expanded again if the situation got better. Most counselling services are offered by telephone. Online counselling services are also available, as is postal correspondence between counselling staff and those seeking advice. The online counselling service, which was already in place before the coronavirus crisis through a dedicated app or via a contact form on the website, has proved extremely useful during the pandemic.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

- Cooperation with non governmental organisations
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Testing online counselling, be open for new and different approaches


- The MBE counselling programme includes an innovative online counselling approach. Especially mbeon and the Caritas online counselling offering new ways for adult immigrants to get information and support. mbeon provides an messenger app and an information platform to get connected with the counsellors.
- The funding guidelines of the MBE offer all counselling offices the participation in these online counselling approaches.
- Additionally to the messenger counselling, the criteria offering funding of video interpreting solutions.
- The MBE is working together with the other federal counselling service, the Youth Migration Services (JMD) and counselling services funded by the German states (Bundeslaender) to exchange these new digital approaches.
- The Covid-19 pandemic has proved how useful these approaches are.
- The MBE Programme is a Germany-wide counselling network of migration counselling services which supports the integration of migrants into the German society and thus adds to the intercultural dialogue und social cohesion in Germany and contributes to avoiding radicalization and ethnical conflicts. Some organizations within the MBE work proactively with certain groups of migrants in their home countries to prepare them for immigrating to Germany (i.e. the Friedland Project, Goethe-Institute).
- The counselling within the MBE Programme adds to support human rights and gender equality. It also offers support to vulnerable groups of advice-seekers.
- The MBE counselling upholds the human rights of children though providing professional and child-oriented counselling of families, although this is not the main target group which the MBE addresses. The main target group within the MBE counselling are adults older than 27 years.

Date submitted:

03 February 2022

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.



*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).