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New visa pathway for Afghan nationals to bring family to New Zealand

Afghan nationals who became New Zealand residents following the 2021 Taliban takeover will be able to access the Refugee Family Support Category from late September 2023.

11 August 2023
2 minute read

As residents, Afghan evacuees have access to some immigration pathways to reunite with immediate family, but they have been unable to access the Refugee Family Support Category (RFSC) as they are not recognised as refugees.

The Government has decided to extend the RFSC to cover Afghan evacuees as they have similar backgrounds and face the same resettlement challenges as refugees.

The end of September is expected to be when the RFSC can be used by Afghan evacuees. This is once the technical changes and new processes and forms are ready. 

The RFSC is a visa category that allows refugees to sponsor family members for residence who would not otherwise qualify. It supports reunification with wider family, which helps refugees to resettle more successfully.

There are 600 RFSC places available each year. Demand is very high and extending eligibility will add to the demand.

RFSC priority is given to people with no other family in New Zealand (tier one sponsors).

Applications from people with family already here (tier two sponsors) are not being accepted at this time, and is unlikely to reopen again to new applications due to the high number already received.

It will take around 2 to 3 years for new applications to be decided for tier one sponsors. This is based on the current level of places available.

Sponsoring family members if you are a refugee