Information for asylum seekers

How to make a claim for refugee or protection status in New Zealand, and information about services for claimants.

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 refugee and protection claimants.

New Zealand has signed an international convention that supports 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.

Refugee and protected person status is a legal status.

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

Refugee Status Unit
162 Victoria Street West
Auckland
Phone: + 64 9 928 2236
Email: rsu@mbie.govt.nz

Opening hours: 8.30am to 4.00 pm, Monday to Friday.

How to make a claim

Refugee and protection claims may be made in person or in writing by a person in New Zealand. Claims may be made by signifying an intention to claim to a police officer or a representative of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment including an immigration officer, or a refugee and protection officer (RPO). A claim must be later confirmed in writing by completing a Confirmation of Claim form.

There are 6 steps to the claim process:

  1. Complete a Confirmation of Claim form.
  2. Submit a written statement.
  3. Attend an interview with a refugee and protection officer (RPO).
  4. Receive a report about your claim.
  5. Make final submissions in support of your claim.
  6. Receive the decision.

The Refugee Status Unit (RSU) will assign your claim to an RPO for processing.

Note

We will not deport anyone while their claim is being processed.

Claim form

Anyone in New Zealand who wants to make a claim must complete a Confirmation of Claim form.

Confirmation of Claim to Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand (INZ 1071) PDF 702KB

Confirmation of Claim to Refugee and Protection Status Guide (INZ 1361) PDF 352KB

When you give the completed form to an RPO you must also give them evidence of your identity and nationality, such as your passport.

Refugee Status Unit
PO Box 90533
Victoria Street
Auckland 1142

Written Statement

After the Confirmation of Claim form has been submitted a Written Statement and supporting information regarding the claim will need to be sent to the Refugee Status Unit.

Refugee and Protection Status Claim Written Statement Guidelines (1362) PDF 236KB

Medical examinations and chest x-rays

You must get a chest x-ray if you are a refugee and protection claimant applying for a temporary visa. You do not need to have a medical examination.

This ensures all claimants, their partners and dependent children have been tested for tuberculosis.

Who needs an x-ray or medical examination

Many people in this situation cannot afford these tests, so we will pay the costs of chest x-rays for:

  • refugee and protection claimants who apply for a temporary visa who have not had an x-ray in the last 36 months
  • their partner and dependent children as long as they were in New Zealand when their family member made a refugee and protection claim— we will pay their costs even if they have not made a claim.

When a person first makes a claim we will give them information about how to get a funded chest x-ray. We will also reimburse any claimant who paid for a medical examination or chest x-ray on or after 1 October 2019.

Note

We are not able to pay for chest x-rays or medical examinations for successful claimants who apply for residence.

Refunds for medical examinations and chest X-rays

To apply for a refund:

  1. Complete the refund request form and gather together your supporting information.
    Customer Refund Request Form PDF 499KB
  2. Send us your refund request and supporting information.

Your refund request can either be:

  • dropped off at the Manukau, Auckland drop box:
    New Zealand drop box
  • posted by courier to this address:
    Immigration New Zealand
    DX Box: EP71514
    20 Fairfax Avenue
    Penrose
    Auckland 1061

Getting help with a claim

You may hire a Licensed Immigration Adviser or lawyer to help you with your claim. Your immigration adviser must have a licence or be a practicing lawyer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be eligible for financial help. You can contact the Legal Aid Service or discuss this with your lawyer.

Find a legal-aid lawyer or provider | Ministry of Justice

How long it takes to process a claim

The current timeframe from when you submit a claim to when it is allocated to a refugee and protection officer (RPO) may be up to 6 to 9 months.

Note

This timeframe is valid for 6 months from 1 June 2024.

Once the claim is allocated to an RPO for assessment, the RSU will contact you to arrange an interview and the timeframes set out in the Guide – Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand will begin. 

Refugee and Protection Claim Process Map and Timeline PDF 147KB

Refugee and Protection Claim Process Map and Timeline — Detainee PDF 129KB

We will advise of any future changes to timeframes.

The claim of a person subject to any restrictions of liberty under the Immigration Act 2009 is subject to expedited timeframes, however, these can be opted out of. If you wish to opt out of the expedited timeframes, use the form below.

Request to opt out of expedited Refugee Status Unit timeframes PDF 246KB

Guidelines for the claim process

The Refugee Status Unit (RSU) provides guidelines for:

  • children and minors
  • confidentiality.

The children and minors guidelines are for RPOs, claimants, their representatives, and adults who determine the refugee or protected person status of minors or children.

Guidelines on Children and Minors at the Refugee Status Unit (Updated June 2018) PDF 375KB

The guidelines explain how the law ensures the confidentiality of the claimant’s identity and details of their claim. They also explain the circumstances in which this information may be disclosed. In no circumstances will information be disclosed where it might endanger any person

Refugee Status Branch Confidentiality Guidelines (2018) PDF 449KB

More information about the claims process

This booklet describes the claims process in detail, and your rights and responsibilities.

Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand  |  English PDF 1MB

Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand  |  Arabic PDF 9MB

Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand  |  Chinese PDF 6MB

Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand  |  Farsi PDF 25MB

Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand  |  Hindi PDF 15MB

Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand |  Russian PDF 24MB

Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand  |  Punjabi PDF 9MB

Claiming Refugee and Protection Status in New Zealand  |  Spanish PDF 2MB

Practice Note

The Practice Note is a detailed guide to the refugee and protection claim determination process. It has been co-designed with legal practitioners and other stakeholders. It will be reviewed annually.

The RSU has been operating a managed queue for claims to be allocated to an RPO for processing since 2019. While the managed queue is operating the timeframes in the Practice Note apply from allocation to an RPO rather than from when the claim is lodged. 

Your claim may take up to 6 months to be allocated to an RPO for processing. 

Refugee Status Unit Practice Note (Refugee and protection status determination) PDF 1MB

Releasing personal information

You may be asked to sign a privacy waiver. For example, so that information may be shared between family members, or to help us assess your claim. Below are two examples of common waivers.

Privacy waiver – authority to release personal information to Immigration New Zealand PDF 266KB

Privacy waiver – authority for Immigration New Zealand to release personal information PDF 244KB

Withdrawing a claim

At any stage of the claim process, you are free to leave New Zealand voluntarily. If you leave while your claim is being processed, your claim is deemed to have been withdrawn. You may also withdraw your claim at any stage of the process by advising us in writing of the reasons for your withdrawal. Use the form below.

Withdrawal of refugee and protection claim form PDF 425KB

Recognition as a refugee or protected person

If you are recognised as a refugee or protected person you can stay in New Zealand.

Information for Convention refugees  |  English PDF 481KB

Information for Convention refugees  |  Mandarin PDF 829KB

Information for Convention refugees  |  Spanish PDF 407KB

Information for Convention refugees  |  Turkish PDF 476KB

Information for Convention refugees  |  Tamil PDF 431KB

Information for Convention refugees  |  Arabic PDF 420KB

Information for Convention refugees  |  Farsi PDF 462KB

Note

The latest version of this document will be available in other languages soon.

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 | YouTube

Help and services for asylum seekers

While your claim is being processed you can use health care in New Zealand and apply for a work visa so you can get a job. If your children are with you, you can enrol them at school.

Welfare advisor support

A welfare advisor can help you with your welfare and support while your asylum claim is being assessed. This includes connecting you to government services such as healthcare, financial support, housing and education. These government services can be provided in your own language with the government agency providing an interpreter for you.

The advisor cannot talk to you about your claim.

You can email the welfare advisor.

welfare.advisor@mbie.govt.nz

Other languages

This information about welfare advisor support is also available in other languages including:

Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, Hindi, Mandarin, Punjabi, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish.

Other languages – welfare advisor support PDF 746KB

Services

Auckland

Services for asylum seekers | English PDF 401KB

Services for asylum seekers | Arabic PDF 566KB

Services for asylum seekers | Chinese PDF 547KB

Services for asylum seekers | Farsi PDF 636KB

Services for asylum seekers | Hindi PDF 551KB

Services for asylum seekers | Punjabi PDF 477KB

Services for asylum seekers | Russian PDF 606KB

Services for asylum seekers | Spanish PDF 492KB

Wellington

Services for asylum seekers | English PDF 400KB

Services for asylum seekers | Arabic PDF 574KB

Services for asylum seekers | Chinese PDF 547KB

Services for asylum seekers | Farsi PDF 576KB

Services for asylum seekers | Hindi PDF 551KB

Services for asylum seekers | Punjabi PDF 561KB

Services for asylum seekers | Russian PDF 552KB

Services for asylum seekers | Spanish PDF 491KB

Christchurch

Services for asylum seekers | English PDF 400KB

Services for asylum seekers | Arabic PDF 597KB

Services for asylum seekers | Chinese PDF 582KB

Services for asylum seekers | Farsi PDF 615KB

Services for asylum seekers | Hindi PDF 568KB

Services for asylum seekers | Punjabi PDF 585KB

Services for asylum seekers | Russian PDF 554KB

Services for asylum seekers | Spanish PDF 493KB