Volunteer information: Kaihāpai (Advocate)

The objective of the Refugee Family Support Category (RFSC) is “to facilitate the successful resettlement of refugees and protected people resident in New Zealand by providing them with an opportunity to sponsor family members who do not qualify for residence under any other category of residence instructions". There are 300 residence places available annually under the RFSC that are filled by sponsored family members from both Tier 1 and Tier 2 registered sponsors. Tier 1 is always open for sponsor registrations, where as Tier 2 opens only sporadically for a period of a few days. A former refugee gets only one opportunity to successfully sponsor under the RFSC.

Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley (CLWHV) helped over 150 former refugees submit their TIER 2 sponsor registrations in November 2017. These registrations are now being given the ‘go ahead’ by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in much quicker succession than anticipated. The Community Law RFSC client waitlist is already very long, as we have limited capacity. Now, with the addition of TIER 2 sponsors seeking assistance, the waitlist is really feeling the pressure. The real kicker is the fact that sponsored family members only have 12 months to successfully lodge their residence applications with INZ. If their application is not lodged within the 12 month period, their next opportunity is unlikely to come for at least another 5 years. In 2012 Tier 2 was open on 17, 18 and 19 April for sponsor registrations. Over five years later, it reopened again for only three days - on 28, 29 and 30 November 2017. Due to NZ’s recent increase in our Refugee Quota intake from 750 to 1000 (without increasing the allocation of 300 places under the RFSC), it is likely to be longer than five years until former refugees will next have a chance to register as a Tier 2 sponsor.

Thus, TIER 2 sponsors really cannot afford to just sit on our waitlist, waiting for assistance – hence the reason why more advocates would be gold to assist our waitlisted clients complete their residence applications.


You may be an existing volunteer with CLWHV or you may wish to come aboard especially for this kaupapa. You may begin as an Kaihāpai (Advocate) and remain on the waitlist to be a Kaiāwhina or a Rōia for our free legal-help sessions.

You may be either a senior law student, law graduate, or a lawyer (with or without a current practicing certificate).

Two years commitment is preferable, with at least a 12-month commitment.

Complexity depends on the number of applicants you accept and issues involved but will largely rely on your love of deadlines and detail-oriented form-filling perfection. You will assist clients to answer questions carefully and correctly and advise them about the best type of supporting documents/evidence to collate to accompany their application.

After the residence application is lodged there are often long waiting periods in between responding to further queries from INZ. When queries do arise these again require respect for deadlines and close attention to what is being requested as well as your best effort to provide all the requested information.

Your work will be largely self-directed and doesn’t take place in any dedicated “session” at CLWHV.

Our Refugee and Immigration Legal Advice Service (RILAS) will assist you as needed.


If you are in a position to come aboard as a Kaihāpai (Advocate) for one of our waitlisted RFSC clients, please;

Express your interest by answering the following questions.

Once you have completed the application form you will be contacted for an interview (if you aren't already a member of our team).

You can prepare by;

o Undertaking this online learning module introducing you to our Refugee Family Reunification work: https://www.openlearning.com/courses/introduction-to-refugee-family-reunification

o Reading up on the following parts of INZ Instructions; S4.10 and R2: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/opsmanual/#35398.htm

Mauri ora!

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