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Appeals: What you can do if you’re refused refugee status


How can I challenge the decision if I’m not recognised as a refugee?

Immigration Act 2009, s 194(1)(c); Legal Services Act 2011, s 7(1)

If Immigration New Zealand rejects your claim for refugee status, you can appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

You have to lodge your appeal within 10 working days after you’re told your claim has been rejected (but if you’re being held by Immigration New Zealand, which could be at the Māngere Refugee Resettlement Centre or in prison, the time limit is only five working days). However, the Immigration and Protection Tribunal can give you longer to lodge your appeal if it thinks there are special circumstances.

When you appeal, you can represent yourself or you can use a lawyer or an immigration adviser (see the chapter “Immigration” in the section “Immigration advisors: Your rights when getting advice). If you can’t afford a lawyer, you’ll be able to get a lawyer under the Legal Aid scheme (see the chapter “Legal Aid and other legal help).

How will the Immigration and Protection Tribunal make its decision?

Immigration Act 2009, s 198; Immigration and Protection Tribunal, Practice Note 2/2015 (Refugee and Protection)

When you appeal against your refugee claim being turned down, the Immigration and Protection Tribunal carries out a full investigation of your claim, considering it afresh. The Tribunal isn’t limited to considering information that you or Immigration New Zealand put before it – it can investigate on its own initiative, although it doesn’t have to do so. It’s your responsibility to establish your case and give the Tribunal all the information you want it to look at.

Can I challenge the Immigration and Protection Tribunal’s decision if they reject my appeal?

Immigration Act 2009, ss 245, 249A; Legal Services Act 2011, s 7(1)

Appeals from the Immigration and Protection Tribunal on refugee status issues are very limited. You can appeal to the High Court only on the ground that the Tribunal made a legal mistake when it decided your appeal. You can also apply to the High Court for judicial review of the Tribunal’s decision, in which case the judge will mainly be looking at whether there was something wrong with the process the Tribunal followed in making its decision.

Legal Aid is available for appeals to the High Court and for judicial review.

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Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

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.


You can read Immigration NZ’s Operational Manual at www.immigration.govt.nz/opsmanual

Immigration and Protection Tribunal


Red Cross Refugee Trauma Recovery


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

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