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Refugees coming to New Zealand

Over 1000 people come to New Zealand every year as refugees. Find out who can come here as a refugee and how the New Zealand government helps them resettle here.

COVID-19: The Immigration NZ website has information for people who support migrants and refugees.

Visa Programme Information — Immigration NZ

Who can come to NZ as a refugee

Refugees arrive in New Zealand in 3 ways.

  • Through the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) resettlement programme.
  • As convention refugees — people who have fled from their own country because they fear persecution or harm.
  • Family members joining refugees already living here.

More information:

Help and support for refugees

When resettlement refugees arrive in New Zealand they stay in Auckland at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre for 6 weeks. They spend that time getting help with English, health, education and finding work. A number of agencies help them adapt to their new life.

Convention refugees are eligible to apply for a residence visa and can access other support such as health and education.

Where they settle

When refugees leave the Mangere Centre they move to a town or city in various regions in New Zealand — Auckland region, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington region, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.

The Red Cross help them set up their homes, sign up for services and learn how things work in New Zealand.

Red Cross — Pathways to settlement

Local people also help refugees to settle into their community.

Volunteer to help former refugees

Learning English

Refugees get help to learn English, such as English as a Second Language (ESOL) courses and home tutoring.

English Language Partners — Learn English

Work and Income can help with the costs of getting to ESOL classes.

Help with travel costs for ILN and ESOL courses

Translation and interpreting services

Translation service

The Department of Internal Affairs Translation Service can translate documents from over 70 languages. They also offer other services, including giving cultural advice.

Translating official documents

Telephone Interpreting Service

Lots of government agencies, councils and medical centres offer interpreters over the phone through the Telephone Interpreting Service. There are over 180 languages available.

The Telephone Interpreting Service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can get an interpreter by calling or visiting an organisation and asking for the Telephone Interpreting Service and the language you need.

Finding work

Refugees get help to prepare for and find work. This includes:

  • CV writing
  • identifying suitable jobs, and
  • preparing for interviews.

Pathways to Employment

While looking for work they can get financial help from Work and Income.

Re-establishment grant

Help with getting family to NZ

Refugees can sponsor family members to come and join them in New Zealand. Up to 300 visas a year are available and priority is given to refugees who have:

  • no other family in New Zealand, and
  • no family members who qualify for a residence visa.

Visa factsheet: Refugee Family Support Resident Visa

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