Immigration status of children
Updated: 11 June 2018
When working with children and young people who may not be New Zealand residents or citizens, it’s very important to determine their immigration status as part of a child-rights focus to decision making.
Cases involving immigration issues are most likely to arise when children and young people who come to the attention of Oranga Tamariki, have parents/caregivers who are foreign citizens, or who may have recently arrived in the country as visitors. The other common scenario is children travelling from an overseas country to stay with extended family in New Zealand.
Effect on access to services
Uncertainty created by an unlawful, incorrect or inappropriate immigration status can affect a child’s ability to access publically funded services that are otherwise available and free for New Zealand children.
These children often can’t:
- attend school
- receive health or dental services when they need them
- access any financial support from the state
- or travel.
Because of this, they are an especially vulnerable group who are often not known to the usual services that ensure the development, wellbeing and safety of children.
Importance of immigration status for children in care
For children in care it’s extremely important that their immigration status is determined, as it often dictates what involvement the child’s country of origin should have in the case.
Their immigration status also creates limitations as to our ability to make permanent arrangements for the child (ie a child who cannot lawfully permanently reside in New Zealand should not be subject to a permanency plan that involves living with a family in New Zealand).
Verification of immigration status
Verification of a child’s immigration status involves determining their citizenship and what visa they have been issued upon entering New Zealand.
This is done by sighting the child’s passport, travel documents or birth certificates and can be achieved through working with the child’s parent or caregiver.
Assistance and advice
Social workers are encouraged to seek the assistance of the International Casework team if:
- the parent/caregiver is unable or unwilling to provide information that verifies their child or young person’s immigration status
- or upon checking it becomes clear that the child’s visa has expired or they appear to be on an incorrect immigration status.
Social workers can email the International Casework team.
When contacted, the team will assist with both determining the child’s immigration status and, where required, taking action to achieve the appropriate immigration status. The team will also be able to provide advice and assistance regarding liaising with authorities in overseas countries where doing so is applicable.
Information for the public
The International Casework team can't give immigration advice to members of the public. Immigration New Zealand can help with this.