Migration internally and abroad was officially declared a human right only in 1993; article 22 of Law 7692 guaranteed the right of every Albanian citizen to choose his/her own place of residence and to move freely within the country, as well as to freely leave the country and return.
Throughout the 1990s policy measures were generally of an ad-hoc nature. Emigration was primarily treated as a means to export unemployment and import wealth through remittances. Albania was soon labeled as problematic for the EU as it was considered to be a source country for all kinds of illegal activities and products: human trafficking, narcotics, human smuggling and 'illegal migrants' to name but a few. Collective expulsions as were carried out by Greece, and other measures aimed at stopping irregular migrants seemed to have little effect. Thus, the EU governing bodies negotiated several agreements with the Albanian governments to stave off the flows.
The EU offered Albania the prospect of accession in 2000 and subsequently started negotiations for the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) – an important stage in the process that leads to accession – in 2003. The SAA was signed in 2006 and was followed by an Action Plan (AP) where issues of migration and asylum took central stage. Thus, the entire migration policy and institutional framework in Albania is framed by the EU needs and demands, reflected in these key policy documents.
With the financial and technical support of the EU and IOM, a National Strategy on Migration (NSM) was prepared. Together with its accompanying National Action Plans on migration and remittances, it aims at improving the management of migration flows, e.g. through expanding the legal channels for emigration in form of seasonal work programs that allow for temporary and circular migration.
Albania has also signed an RA with the EU that establishes Albania's obligation to readmit Albanian citizens as well as TCNs and stateless persons apprehended on the EU member states' territories having entered via Albania. Signing the RA was a prerequisite for the SAA (Article 81). The RA was negotiated in 2003, ratified by the EU Parliament in 2005 and the Albanian Parliament in 2006, and entered in force in May 2006 for Albanian nationals and in 2008 for TCNs.
In 2008, a Visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU entered into force. It facilitated the visa application and entry into the EU territory of certain categories of Albanian citizens such as pensioners, students, journalists and professionals. Since December 2010 Albanian citizens who possess an Albanian biometric passport have been allowed to travel without a visa to the Schengen area and reside there for up to three months for tourist purposes.
Other policies that have been designed to address issues such as the reintegration of returned Albanian citizens, the trafficking in human beings as well as refugees and asylum seekers.