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Refugees coming to New Zealand

Over 1,000 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.

Resources for people who support refugees

The Immigration New Zealand website has helpful information for education providers, immigration advisers, government organisations and professionals who help refugees.

Assist migrants and students — Immigration NZ

Who can come to New Zealand 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 government organisations 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.

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

Help for refugees — Red Cross

Local people also help refugees to settle into their community.

Refugee support volunteer — Red Cross

Learning English

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

Want to learn English? — English Language Partners

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

Help with travel costs for ILN and ESOL courses — Work and Income

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 organisations, 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
  • preparing for interviews.

Finding a job — Red Cross

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

Re-establishment grant — Work and Income

Help with getting family to New Zealand

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.

Refugee Family Support Resident Visa — Immigration NZ

Who to contact for more help

If you need more help or have questions about the information or services on this page, contact one of the following agencies.

Utility links and page information

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