The Refugee Status Branch is the INZ office that decides claims to refugee status and to protection from return to face a risk of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Refugee and protection claims are decided by refugee and protection officers (RPOs) in accordance with the Immigration Act 2009, which codifies New Zealand’s immigration-related obligations under the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees, and the related 1967 protocol, and also the 1984 Convention Against Torture and 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Broadly stated, these instruments represent a commitment by New Zealand not to send any person to a country in which they face a risk of being persecuted or suffering torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Refugee and protection claims may be made in person or in writing by a person in New Zealand. Claims may be made by signalling an intention to claim to a delegate of the Department of Labour, including an immigration officer, a refugee and protection officer, a customs officer or a police constable.
Claims must be confirmed in writing by completing the Confirmation of Claim to Refugee Status in New Zealand (INZ 1071) PDF.
Qualifying persons may be able to receive legal aid for legal expenses relating to a refugee claim. For a list of legal aid lawyers visit www.lsa.govt.nz.
Refugee and protection claims that are declined by refugee and protection officers (RPOs) may generally be appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT). To find out more about the IPT, including obtaining copies of appeal forms, visit www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals.
RPOs do not make decisions on visas and are not involved in the selection or settlement of UNHCR-mandated refugees. For information on these processes contact the Refugee Quota Branch – PO Box 22315, Otahuhu, Auckland 1640,DX: EX 11077, telephone (09) 276 6502.