Refugee / Asylum

Each year New Zealand accepts 750 refugees for resettlement through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as part of its commitment to being a good international citizen.

In addition, New Zealand considers claims from asylum seekers who claim refugee status when they arrive in New Zealand.


The Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT) can consider all aspects of an individual’s appeal together, where those grounds arise at the same time. The IPT is administered by the Ministry of Justice.

The IPT replaces the:

  • Residence Review Board (RRB)
  • Removal Review Authority (RRA)
  • Refugee Status Appeals Authority (RSAA)
  • Deportation Review Tribunal (DRT).

Court Appearances

Ministerial/Special Directions


Deportation is the process for requiring a foreign national who has no right to remain in New Zealand to leave. New Zealand citizens cannot be deported from New Zealand. In summary, deportation liability is triggered by:

  • Staying in New Zealand unlawfully (i.e. beyond a visa expiry date)
  • Staying in New Zealand on a visa granted in error
  • Staying in New Zealand on a visa obtained under a false identity
  • The Minister of Immigration determining there is sufficient reason to make a temporary entrant liable for deportation, including:
    • Breach of visa conditions
    • Criminal offending
    • Matters relating to character
    • Concealment of relevant information in relation to the person’s visa application
    • Where the person’s circumstances no longer meet the rules or criteria under which the visa was granted.
    • Obtaining a residence class visa through fraud, forgery etc.
  • Breaching conditions of a resident visa
  • New information prejudicial to character becoming available that, if known at the time a residence class visa was granted, would have meant the visa would have been refused
  • A residence class visa holder being convicted of certain criminal offences
  • Cancellation of refugee and/or protection status where the person is not a New Zealand citizen
  • Being a risk or threat to security.

Residence class visa holders remain liable for deportation for 10 years following liability for deportation arising.


If you are an Immigration New Zealand client or representative with a complaint about a matter handled by Immigration New Zealand, you will need to follow its Client Complaint Resolution Process. A complaint might relate to:

  • an issue about the service you received
  • the time taken to process your application
  • a process failure – not following their own instructions or procedures
  • other matters related to your dealings with Immigration New Zealand

Complaints are not if you are just unhappy with a decision you received.

Migrant Exploitation

Migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand. However, some employers do not treat their migrant workers according to New Zealand employment law. In some cases, this may be “exploitation”.

We know that you may be afraid to report exploitation at work. You may be working when your visa does not allow this. Or you may be in New Zealand unlawfully (your visa may be expired). You may be afraid that if you report exploitation at work, you will have to leave New Zealand.

Some employers will know this and they will pay you less and make you work in conditions that are below the rights for New Zealand workers. This is wrong. If you report exploitation at work, you may be able to stay in New Zealand while we investigate and prosecute your employer, or to complete the purpose of your visit.

For further information about where to go for immigration queries, click here

It is illegal for anyone to provide immigration advice, unless they hold a license or are exempt from the requirement to be licensed.

Most information about this can be found through the Immigration Advisers Authority. You can contact them on 0508 422 422 or check out their website at

The Immigration Advisers Authority can help you:

  • Find out if your adviser is licensed
  • Find out who is exempt from the requirement to be licensed
  • Find out how your adviser must treat you
  • Complain about the actions of your adviser
  • Find out if your adviser is overcharging you.

The New Zealand Law Society can help you find a lawyer in your area, or help you lodge a complaint about your lawyer. You can contact them on 04 472 7837 or by email at Check out their website at for more information.

For General Information about studying and working as a migrant in NZ, check out:


Contact the Department of Labour for:

Information about your basic rights as an employee.

community law

Contact the Wellington & Lower Hutt Community Law centres for free legal advice and assistance 04 499 2928 or email

Immigration NZ

Contact Immigration New Zealand to report migrant exploitation and check your work entitlement. Call 0508 558 855 or visit Immigration New Zealand’s website at


Check the Careers website for:

  • Information about your chances of getting a certain job in New Zealand;
  • Information about what people working in your role are typically paid in New Zealand. Call 0800 222 733 or visit



Information about Employment Disputes

0800 20 90 20 or visit the Department of Labour website at

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