Intersections of immigration law and family violence: Exploring barriers for ethnic migrant and refugee background women


  • Irene Ayallo Unitec Institute of Technology, Aotearoa New Zealand



Family violence and immigration policy, ethnic women and domestic violence, immigration and social work


INTRODUCTION: Action on family violence1 remains a policy priority for the New Zealand government. Accordingly, this article explores the Immigration New Zealand’s Victims of Family Violence (VFV) visa. Specifically, it explores possible barriers preventing MELAA2 cultural groups from utilizing the VFV visa.

APPROACH: The discussion is based on administrative immigration data, gathered by Immigration New Zealand (INZ), on applicants for VFV visas between July 2010 and March 2021.

FINDINGS: Over the last 10 years, INZ received 1,947 applications for the VFV Visa. People of Asian (40%) and Pacific (38%) backgrounds made most of these applications, with India, Fiji, China, the Philippines, and Tonga making up the top five source countries. MELAA communities made only 11% of the total VFV visa applications. Applicants from South Africa, Brazil, Iran, Nigeria, and Argentina made up the top five source MELAA countries. Analyses showed that MELAA applications were mostly work-type visas.

IMPLICATIONS: Data presented shows that the VFV visa is still underutilised within these communities. Possible reasons for these notable outcomes are explored in this article, with suggestions for remediating strategies for barriers preventing MELAA communities from utilising the VFV visa. This article concludes that more research is required to gain an in- depth understanding of the specific cultural contexts within which these women engage with this visa.


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How to Cite

Ayallo, I. (2021). Intersections of immigration law and family violence: Exploring barriers for ethnic migrant and refugee background women. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 33(4), 55–64.



Original Articles II