Information for asylum seekers

People who fear returning to their own country can ask New Zealand to recognise them as refugees or protected persons. People who lodge a claim for refugee or protection status in New Zealand are known as asylum seekers.

New Zealand has signed international conventions that support the right of people to seek asylum. New Zealand is a signatory to:

  • 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
  • 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Immigration New Zealand (INZ) branch that deals with refugee and protection claims is:

Refugee Status Branch
Level 12, 280 Queen Street
Auckland CBD
Telephone: 09 928 2236
Fax: 09 914 5298
Email: RSB@mbie.govt.nz
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 4.00 pm

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 Business, Innovation and Employment including an immigration officer, a refugee and protection officer, a customs officer or a police constable.  Refugee claims must be confirmed in writing.

You may hire a Licensed Immigration Adviser or lawyer to help you argue your claim.  Your immigration adviser must have a licence or be a practicing lawyer.  If you can’t afford a lawyer, you may be able have your legal fees paid for you.  The service, called Legal Aid, is available from some lawyers.

A list of legal-aid lawyers | Ministy of Justice website

Definition of a refugee and a protected person

Refugee and protected person status is a legal status.

The claims process

The Refugee Status Branch (RSB) will process your claim. Immigration New Zealand won’t deport anyone while their claim is being processed.
RSB will assign your claim to a refugee and protection officer (RPO). The RPO tries to decide your claim within 140 days from when you lodged it.

There are six steps to the claim process:

  1. Complete a claim form.
  2. Submit a written statement.
  3. Attend an interview with an RPO.
  4. Receive a report summarising your claim.
  5. Make final submissions in support of your claim.
  6. Receive the verdict.

How the claims process works

INZ has created a resource that describes how the claims process works. It includes contacts for the different services you will need. It also explains your rights and responsibilities.

English - Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand PDF 408KB
Arabic - Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand PDF 409KB
Chinese - Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand PDF 597KB
Farsi - Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand PDF 424KB
Tamil - Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand PDF 435KB
Urdu - Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand PDF 561KB

Claim form

Each person in New Zealand seeking asylum must complete a confirmation of claim form. Refugee claims must be confirmed in writing.

Refugee Status Branch
PO Box 90533, Victoria Street
Auckland 1142, DX: CX10074

When you give the completed form to a refugee and protection officer (RPO) you must also give them any identity documents that you have. These include your passport and driver’s licence. If you have no documentation, police may detain you while immigration officials investigate your claim.

Confirmation of Claim to Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand (INZ 1071) PDF 411KB

Recognition as a refugee or protected person

If you are recognised as a refugee or protected person you can stay in New Zealand permanently. You can apply for a permanent resident visa.

Permanent resident visa

Rejection as a refugee or protected person

If you are not recognised as a refugee or protected person you can generally appeal this decision. The Immigration and Protection Tribunal, which is part of the Ministry of Justice, will hear your appeal.

If you win your appeal you can stay here permanently. If not, you must leave New Zealand.

Immigration and Protection Tribunal

Services for asylum seekers

While your claim is being processed you may be able to use publicly funded health care and apply for a work visa so you can get a job. If your children are with you, you can enrol them at school.

The following links are brochures containing information about services and support available to people seeking refugee or protected person status in New Zealand.

Auckland

English - Services for asylum seekers PDF 239KB
Arabic - Services for asylum seekers PDF 268KB
Chinese - Services for asylum seekers PDF 391KB
Farsi - Services for asylum seekers PDF 271KB
Tamil - Services for asylum seekers PDF 295KB
Urdu - Services for asylum seekers PDF 1MB

Wellington

English - Services for asylum seekers PDF 239KB
Arabic - Services for asylum seekers PDF 267KB
Chinese - Services for asylum seekers PDF 395KB
Farsi - Services for asylum seekers PDF 272KB
Tamil - Services for asylum seekers PDF 295KB
Urdu - Services for asylum seekers PDF 1MB

Christchurch

English - Services for asylum seekers PDF 238KB
Arabic - Services for asylum seekers PDF 267KB
Chinese - Services for asylum seekers PDF 387KB
Farsi - Services for asylum seekers PDF 271KB
Tamil - Services for asylum seekers PDF 295KB
Urdu - Services for asylum seekers PDF 1MB

For information about settling in New Zealand if you are recognised as a refugee or protected person view this video:

Convention Refugees – settling into New Zealand