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 vision of this strategy is that former refugees and their families settle successfully, achieve their goals, and thrive in Aotearoa New Zealand. This includes feeling safe and well, having a sense of belonging and being able to participate in and contribute to all aspects of life (social, economic, cultural, and civic).

The vision is underpinned by 5 settlement outcomes:

  1. Participation and Inclusion: Former refugees and their families are welcomed and have a strong sense of belonging and acceptance in their communities and in Aotearoa New Zealand. They feel confident and safe to participate in different aspects of their lives.
  2. Health and Wellbeing: Former refugees and their families achieve their health and wellbeing goals and thrive in their lives.
  3. Housing: Former refugees and their families live in homes and in communities that meet their long-term needs and goals.
  4. Education, Training and English Language: Former refugees and their families achieve their education, training and English language goals.
  5. Employment and Self-Sufficiency: Former refugees and their families achieve their employment and self-sufficiency goals, building on their skills and experiences.

Refugee Resettlement Strategy PDF 263KB

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 resettles 1,500 refugees each year.

More information on the Refugee Quota Programme

Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship Category

The Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship (CORS) category pilot enables New Zealand-based community organisations to sponsor refugees for resettlement. The CORS category is complementary to the annual Refugee Quota Programme.

A CORS category pilot ran in 2018, allowing 4 approved community organisation sponsors to settle 24 sponsored refugees. The community organisations actively supported sponsored refugees to settle in New Zealand and prepared their communities to welcome refugees. Overall, the pilot helped promote community involvement and inclusion, supporting refugees to become active participants in New Zealand society.

In May 2020, the Government agreed to extend the CORS category pilot for a further 3 years from 1 July 2021. This will allow up to 50 sponsored refugees to be resettled in New Zealand in each of the 3 financial years from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2024 (a total of 150 sponsored refugees over the 3 years). Sponsored refugees will be supported to settle by approved community organisations. 

Principal applicants must be:

From 14 September 2023, any partner or dependent child included in a residence application no longer have to be mandated refugees, but are counted in the cap of 150 people approved under the CORS category.

INZ has received sufficient expressions of interest to meet capacity under the CORS category. For this reason, further expressions of interest are no longer being accepted.

In early 2021, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) worked collaboratively with refugees, previous sponsor organisations, iwi partners and key stakeholders to co-design a community architecture or model to support the delivery of the extended CORS category. The new model includes the addition of an umbrella organisation (HOST Aotearoa New Zealand) to support both refugees and community groups through the settlement journey.

Extended CORS pilot project estimated timeline

  • Early 2021: Community engagement and design phase in relation to the community organisation support model starts.
  • From mid-2021: Implementation of the community organisation support model.
  • Last quarter of 2021: Applications from potential community organisations estimated to open.

Immigration New Zealand are working towards sponsored refugees arriving in New Zealand from the middle of 2022 under the extended CORS category pilot.

View the CORS pilot project estimated timeline in PDF format PDF 194KB

Please note the timeline provided is indicative only and could change due to COVID-19 requirements.

Refugee Family Support Category

New Zealand offers 600 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