10 Oct 2019

Greens' family reunification policy review seeks more settlement funding

7:59 am on 10 October 2019

The Green Party is calling for a strengthened family reunification policy to match increasing numbers of refugees.

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Immigration spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman says more funding is needed for settlement support. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

The refugee quota increased from 750 to 1000 last July, and will again rise again to 1500 in July 2020.

The number of relatives who can register to join them under refugee family support is currently set at 300 a year.

A review of the policy is part of the Green Party's confidence and supply agreement with the government.

It wants funding for settlement support, including visa fees and flights, said its immigration spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman.

"It hasn't been reviewed for many years," she said. "We wanted a review into the resourcing of the policy. Currently there's no resource that goes into supporting family members that are reunified with refugees here.

"The refugee family member here has to fund the legal fees for the visa, hundreds of dollars, and then the flights for the family member.

"As well as that they have to show they can house their family member for two years. That has proven to be really unrealistic for people."

She also wants the definition of family to be broadened.

"We currently define it very narrowly as immediate family, and that doesn't quite fit with the reality of life for refugees who often are left with only one or two members of their extended family trapped in a war zone, who they can't be reunified with, because we don't recognize them."

Mental health issues that refugees face often disappeared once they were joined by relatives, she added.

Currently, only category one refugees - those who have no relatives with them in New Zealand - are able to sponsor family members.

Options from the review will go before Cabinet in the near future.

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