Frequently Asked Questions

Immigration and Human Rights

The Immigration Act 2009 is administered by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment through its agency, Immigration New Zealand. The Immigration New Zealand website is the important website to visit for learning more about immigration to New Zealand (

The Human Rights Commission’s ability to help with some immigration matters is limited. The Commission cannot intervene in immigration policy or any individual application for immigration. Section 392 of the Immigration Act 2009 defines the relationship between that Act and the Human Rights Act. Subsection (2) specifically excludes the Commission from accepting complaints about the content or application of the Immigration Act or any regulations made under it, or about the content or application of any immigration applications or instructions. The reason for this is found in subsection (3) where it recognises that “immigration matters inherently involve different treatment on the basis of personal characteristics” (such as health, age, national origin).

The exclusion only relates to individual complaints. The Commission is able to exercise other statutory powers such as making public statements or inquiring into situations which may involve an infringement on human rights.

The Office of the Ombudsman can investigate complaints about Immigration New Zealand’s administrative conduct. Information about their complaints process can be found on their website (

The following are some answers to frequent questions the Commission receives from people who contact us.

Who could recommend an immigration lawyer?

You can contact your local Community Law Centre to ask for legal advice. Community Law Centres can provide you with a list of immigration lawyers in your area if they are unable to assist and the New Zealand Law Society can also put you in touch with an immigration lawyer. If you are unhappy with a lawyer’s service, you can complain to the Law Society.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) may be able to provide some information.

Who could recommend an Immigration Adviser?

You can contact the Immigration Advisers Authority to search for Immigration Advisers. If you have a complaint about an authorised Immigration Adviser, you can complain to the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.

What can I do if I think my Immigration application is not being properly considered?

You can complain directly to Immigration NZ in the first instance. There are different processes available depending on the type of complaint.

You can also complain to the Office of the Ombudsman.

What can I do if I feel I am being harassed by an Immigration NZ staff member?

You can complain to the Human Rights Commission about racial and sexual harassment by calling the Commission’s confidential service on 0800 496 877 or emailing [email protected]. You can also complain by submitting an online form on our website

You can complain to the Office of the Ombudsman for other types of harassment. Generally, you will need to complain to Immigration NZ before contacting the Ombudsman.

My sick mother has not been granted permanent residence. Is this disability discrimination?

The Human Rights Commission is unable to help you with this matter.

Immigration NZ can consider personal characteristics such as health and age when assessing immigration applications. This is not considered to be unlawful discrimination.

What are my rights if the other parent of my child takes the child overseas and doesn’t come back?

This may be a matter for the Police so you could contact them.

You may also need legal advice. You can contact your local Community Law Centre to ask if they can provide free legal advice and/or contact the New Zealand Law Society for a list of Family Lawyers in your area.

Immigration NZ is undermining my culture by not recognising the way in which my arranged marriage will come about, can the Commission help me?

The Commission can help with complaints of race or other types of unlawful discrimination about the way services are provided but cannot help in individual immigration cases.

Can my children legally attend school while my immigration status is pending?

All children in New Zealand are entitled to attend school regardless of their immigration status

I am not entitled to free health care, even though my husband is a New Zealand citizen? Is this national origin discrimination?

Section 153(3) of the Human Rights Act 1993 says it is not unlawful for the laws and policies of the NZ Government to distinguish between NZ citizens and other persons. Refer also to the Ministry of Health’s website at

It is not safe for my brother to be sent back to our home country from New Zealand. How can I help him gain refugee and protected person status?

Learn more about refugee and protected person status through

Who can help me to settle here?

New Zealand Now is a government website run by Immigration NZ with lots of useful and reliable information to help migrants get settled. The website includes job-hunting tips, tips for settling in, and advice on getting you and your family set up in New Zealand.