ICMPD was founded to carry out research, projects and activities on migration-related issues and to provide policy recommendations to the governmental agencies of states, as well as to external governmental and intergovernmental agencies. ICMPD also has observer status at the United Nations. Although ICMPD has global operations, it is primarily focused on the European area and is headquartered in Vienna, Austria. ICMPD is currently composed of 17 Member States, around 200 staff members, a mission in Brussels, as well as representatives in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.
It cooperates with governments, other international organisations, research institutes and members of civil society in developing policies in migration-related areas, as well organising trainings, etc. to transfer know-how on dealing with migration issues.