Refugee and protection

The Refugee and Protection Unit promotes the successful resettlement of refugees here. We work with government and international agencies to help refugees who arrive here under our quota. It’s part of New Zealand’s Refugee Resettlement Strategy.

Working for refugees

The Refugee and Protection Unit promotes the interests of refugees who arrive in New Zealand each year.

They comprise:

  • part of a quota under the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • family members of refugees
  • asylum-seekers.

New Zealand has an obligation to protect the refugees that it accepts. It signed the:

  • 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees
  • 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees
  • 1984 Convention Against Torture
  • 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The unit coordinates official and community support for refugees. It contributes to continual development of practices and policies that help refugees.

The Unit works closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and foreign governments.

Refugee resettlement strategy

We coordinate our work for refugees under the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy. The strategy aims to settle refugees better. It encourages refugees to participate fully in their new community and help them to become self-sufficient.

The strategy has five goals:

  • self-sufficiency – all working-age refugees are in paid work or are supported by a family member in paid work
  • participation – refugees actively participate in New Zealand life and have a strong sense of belonging here
  • health and wellbeing – refugees and their families enjoy healthy, safe and independent lives
  • education – English-language skills help refugees participate in education and daily life
  • housing – refugees live in safe, secure, healthy and affordable homes without needing government housing help.

Refugee Resettlement Strategy PDF 1005KB

Settlement information for refugees

The Refugee and Protection Unit produces information and videos to support:

  • refugees accepted under our quota
  • approved asylum seekers
  • Refugee Family Support Category members who settled in New Zealand.

Factsheets for refugees and their families settling in New Zealand

Videos for refugees and their families settling in New Zealand

Refugee quota programme

New Zealand’s Refugee Quota Programme accepts 1000 refugees each year.

More information on the Refugee Quota Programme

Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship Category

The Government has agreed to pilot a Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship Category for 25 refugees in 2017/18.  This pilot category is designed to:

  • Provide an alternative and additional form of admission for refugees to New Zealand, to complement the annual quota.
  • Provide an additional opportunity for community organisations to actively engage in refugee resettlement, and to build local communities that welcome refugees.
  • Enable sponsored refugees to quickly become independent and self-sufficient in New Zealand.

A request for applications from potential sponsoring community organisations has now closed. Four community based organisations have been chosen to sponsor refugees who will arrive in New Zealand by June 2018. They are:

  • Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand (Wellington)
  • Gleniti Baptist Church (Timaru)
  • South West Baptist Church (Christchurch)
  • The Society of St Vincent de Paul (Nelson)

Cabinet decisions on the policy design are available on the MBIE website

Implementation of the Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship category

Refugee Family Support Category

New Zealand offers 300 places each year for eligible refugees resident in New Zealand to sponsor family members to join them.

Sponsoring refugee family members

Refugee and protection status

Eligible people in New Zealand can apply for refugee and protected-person status. They must show that they fear being seriously harmed or tortured or that they risk inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment if they return to a country.

Refugee and protection status