Governments present the assisted return of rejected asylum seekers and other ‘unwanted’ migrants as the cornerstone of an effective migration management policy. However, it is also a practice criticised by migrants’ rights advocates for being a form of coerced, rather than voluntary, return. One response to critiques is to highlight the potential such programmes have in the successful reintegration of returnees. But what is meant by ‘successful’ reintegration? Based on research in Afghanistan with returnees from Norway and the United Kingdom, we highlight the extreme difficulties faced in achieving reintegration.