How does resettlement to New Zealand work?

Below is a summary of the steps in the New Zealand resettlement process for people transferred offshore by Australia who are now in Nauru, Papua New Guinea, and Australia.

More details on this process may be added to this website later. Please visit this website regularly for updates.  

*Moving through each step depends on eligibility. Case processing can take a long time and we understand that the waiting period can be difficult. UNHCR will contact you at each step and let you know if your case is proceeding.  

Step 1: Refugees complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) form online

The New Zealand resettlement process is entirely voluntary. If you wish to be considered, the first step is to complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) form online. Anyone who was transferred by Australia to Nauru or Papua New Guinea on or after 19 July 2013 can complete an EOI.

It is important to provide honest and complete information throughout this process. This includes current information on all family members, especially any spouses or children. Completed forms will be received directly by UNHCR and managed in accordance with the UNHCR Data Protection Policy. Your information will be kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone without your consent.

If you are in a resettlement process with another country, such as the United States or Canada, you should continue with that process. This remains your best chance of resettlement. You can still complete an EOI, but you will likely not be contacted right away.

The EOI form includes basic questions about your identity, contact details and current situation. You can also give consent for UNHCR to access your existing files (from PNG, Nauru and Australia).

If you have participated in interviews or provided information to UNHCR in the past, UNHCR will have this information on file. You will not have to start your case again.

Once an EOI has been completed, you will receive an email from UNHCR within one week confirming your form has been received. You do not need to do anything else at this time.

EOIs are not applications for resettlement to New Zealand and do not guarantee that your case will be referred to New Zealand. Completing an EOI simply lets UNHCR know that you are interested. UNHCR will review your information to assess if your case can be considered for referral to New Zealand.

Step 2: Initial review by UNHCR

Once your Expression of Interest (EOI) has been received, UNHCR will review the information you provided together with your files, to see if your case may be eligible for the New Zealand resettlement process.  UNHCR may request your files from government authorities, including the Australian Department of Home Affairs, if you provided consent for this.

UNHCR will inform you if your case will not proceed further from this stage.

UNHCR is currently prioritizing people who are not in any other resettlement process.  If you are in another resettlement process, you can still complete an EOI, but you will not be contacted right away.

Step 3: UNHCR schedules an interview

UNHCR will contact you if your case can be considered for resettlement to New Zealand. We will ask you if you are still interested and invite you for an interview.

Step 4: UNHCR resettlement interview

During the interview, UNHCR will provide you with more information about the New Zealand resettlement process, and you can ask any questions you may have. UNHCR will also collect, update and confirm the information on file regarding your current situation, family members and why you left your home country and cannot return.  It is important to share honest and complete information with UNHCR during the interview.

Only UNHCR will be present during the resettlement interview. This is separate from any processes you may have been through with government authorities.  UNHCR understands that you may have gone through multiple interviews in the past. We will review all of your case files before the interview, so that we understand your case well. You can stop the interview at any point and ask to continue it at another time.

Most interviews will be conducted by phone.  Some may be conducted in person.  Interpreters will be available.

The interview is an important opportunity to share information you would like UNHCR to consider and to correct or update any information.

Step 5: Final UNHCR assessment

UNHCR will use the information in your file and collected during the interview to assess if you are eligible for referral to New Zealand.

If you are eligible UNHCR will prepare a referral document.  Participating in the resettlement process is voluntary and you can choose to withdraw at any stage. We will ask for your consent before sharing your information with New Zealand.

UNHCR will inform you, if you are not to be eligible to be referred to New Zealand

Step 6: Referral to New Zealand

UNHCR will send a referral document with information about your case to New Zealand.  We will inform you that your case has been referred and is being considered by New Zealand.

Step 7: Initial file review by New Zealand

The New Zealand authorities will review the information provided by UNHCR and decide if they will consider your case for resettlement.

Step 8: Initial review by New Zealand

If New Zealand decides to consider your case, they will invite you for a resettlement interview. New Zealand officials may contact you directly to invite you to the interview, or they may invite you to the interview through UNHCR, IOM or the Australian Department of Home Affairs. UNHCR will also contact you at this time to ask if you have any questions or concerns.

UNHCR will inform you if New Zealand decides that they will not consider your case.

Step 9: Resettlement interview with New Zealand

New Zealand will conduct their resettlement interview with you. This may be online or in-person.

The interview will last for about 2 – 4 hours and will be split into two parts.  The first part will focus on why you left your home country and cannot return. The second part will focus on resettlement in New Zealand and any questions you want to ask.

To confirm your identity, New Zealand officials will collect your biometrics (fingerprints).  They will do this during or after the interview, possibly together with IOM, or will ask for your consent to get this information from the Australian government.

Step 10: Medical Exam

After the interview you will be invited for a medical exam as part of your case assessment. You will be informed by New Zealand officials or IOM where and when to go for the medical exam.

Step 11: New Zealand assessment and decision

New Zealand officials will review the information in your file, including security checks that they will conduct during the process. They will use this information to decide if your case will be accepted for resettlement.

The average processing time between the New Zealand resettlement interview (Step 9) and the decision (Step 11) is around 6 – 12 months.

Once New Zealand makes a decision on your case, they will send a letter to UNHCR with the decision. UNHCR will inform you of the decision and give you the letter.

Step 12:  Additional health assessments

If New Zealand has accepted your case for resettlement, you will be invited for three more health assessments. These health assessments are voluntary. They will help New Zealand prepare for any medical care you may need upon arrival.

Step 13: Scheduling of departure

New Zealand, together with IOM, will then arrange for your departure and tell you when you will depart.  They will tell you in advance about the departure date so that you can prepare.

If you do not have a valid passport or Convention Travel Document, you will be given a travel document which allows you to travel to New Zealand.

Step 14: Arrival to New Zealand

You will travel to New Zealand by plane.  New Zealand officials from Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre will meet you at the airport and guide you through the airport processes.

You will have a five-week orientation session at Mangere Centre to help you settle in New Zealand. You will stay at Mangere Centre during this time and will have access to services like medical care and English classes. After the orientation session, you will live in a rented house in the community.

When you arrive in New Zealand, you will be a permanent resident. This means you can live in New Zealand for as long as you would like. You will have the same rights and responsibilities as all New Zealand permanent residents. After you have lived in New Zealand for five years, you can apply for citizenship.

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