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The UNHCR Refugee Quota


What is the UNHCR Refugee Quota?

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”) Refugee Quota is a formal annual quota established by the New Zealand government for resettling particular refugees.

In July 2020, the annual quota was increased to 1,500. The quota wasn’t met for 2022 because of the global impact of COVID-19, but Immigration New Zealand is intending to meet the quota for 2023.

If you’re resettled under the quota, you’ll be granted a Permanent Resident Visa when you arrive in New Zealand. You’ll therefore be entitled to live, work and study here indefinitely.

This quota scheme is different from the scheme in the Immigration Act for refugee status claims. Under the quota scheme, a refugee is accepted before they arrive in New Zealand. Also, there’s no quota for people claiming refugee status – those claims are established on their merits with no limit on how many claims Immigration New Zealand can recognise each year.

Who is eligible under the UNHCR Refugee Quota?

For you to be eligible, UNHCR and Immigration New Zealand must both recognise you as a refugee. You will have to come within the New Zealand government’s regional and global priorities, although there are exceptions for emergencies and family reunification. You must also be otherwise admissible under New Zealand law – for example, you may be excluded if you have a criminal record or are thought to be a security threat (see: “Accessing the immigration system: Who can apply for a visa and who can’t”).

How do I apply to be considered for the UNHCR Refugee Quota?

Immigration New Zealand will usually only consider cases that have been referred by the UNHCR. You must approach the UN High Commissioner for Refugees before you apply to Immigration New Zealand. Go to www.help.unhcr.org/newzealand for more information, or you could email aulca@unhcr.org or call (+61) 2 6281 9100.

How does Immigration New Zealand make its decision?

Immigration New Zealand will decide whether you qualify for the quota scheme according to its established policies and guidelines. In some cases, they will consult with other government agencies, such as the Ministry of Health. Immigration New Zealand’s practice is that a decision as to whether the person is eligible requires agreement between two Immigration Officers. It takes roughly six to eight weeks for Immigration New Zealand to process the submission and make a decision.

Can I appeal Immigration NZ’s decision?

There is no right of review or appeal if Immigration New Zealand turns someone down for the UNHCR Refugee Quota. However, they may reconsider if the UNHCR provides additional information and a reason that justifies reconsidering the case.

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Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice on how legal aid works, whether you might be eligible for the service, and the next steps.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Immigration New Zealand

Immigration New Zealand is the government organisation that deals with visa applications and other immigration issues. It’s part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Website: www.immigration.govt.nz
Phone: 0508 558 855

The Operational manual contains immigration instructions that people who want to come to New Zealand must follow. While it is not a step-by-step guide, it will help you follow Immigration New Zealand’s processes. Access it here: www.immigration.govt.nz/opsmanual

See also Immigration’s policies and processes: www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/policy-and-law/how-the-immigration-system-operates

ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum

ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum is a grass-roots non-governmental organisation representing 18+ refugee background communities in the greater Wellington region.

Website: crf.org.nz
Email: info@crf.org.nz
Phone: 04 801 5812
Facebook: www.facebook.com/changemakersrefugeeforum

E Tū Whānau

While E Tū Whānau is proudly Māori, their violence free and whānau centred kaupapa is also helpful to former refugee and migrant communities.

Website: etuwhanau.org.nz/communities/former-refugees-and-migrants
Email: admin@etuwhanau.org.nz
Instagram: www.instagram.com/etuwhanaunz
Facebook: www.facebook.com/etuwhanau

Immigration and Protection Tribunal

The Immigration and Protection Tribunal determines appeals on Immigration New Zealand’s decisions about refugee and protection matters.

Website: www.justice.govt.nz/Tribunals/immigration/immigration-and-protection

Red Cross Refugee Trauma Recovery – Wellington

This Refugee Trauma Recovery service provides clinical and therapeutic support to former refugees who have experienced torture and/or trauma in the Wellington region. The service is available to children, young people and adults.

Website: www.redcross.org.nz/get-help/help-for-refugees

Complete the trauma counselling self-referral form: www.redcross.org.nz/get-help/help-for-refugees/trauma-counselling/trauma-counselling-self-referral-form

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