Published: Mon, Sep 17th, 2012

Policy Changes for Parent Immigration to New Zealand

The implications for parents seeking to join children in New Zealand are significant.

Recent changes to Immigration policy relating to parents and adult siblings seeking to join family members already in New Zealand are the most significant changes to Family Residence Visa policies in the last 16 years.

The Government has abolished the ability of the last remaining adult sibling in the home country to join family members in New Zealand. They have, in addition, created a two-tier processing of parent category cases favouring those with high income earning sponsors, or who have guaranteed retirement income or significant funds to invest in New Zealand. This latter group will have their applications for residence processed in priority to other parent category applications. Parents seeking to migrate to New Zealand will not be able to apply if they still have dependants under their care.

While the timing of the policy release may indicate that it is in response to comments made by the New Zealand First Party regarding the ability of recently migrated parents to obtain superannuation, they are in fact in response to long-standing research in respect of the draw on welfare and health systems by parents and the employability of adult siblings, secondary to their migration.

The implications for parents seeking to join children in New Zealand are significant. There are likely to be lengthy processing times for the second tier priority applications made by those who don't have high income earnings; sponsors, guaranteed retirement income or funds to invest in New Zealand.

The Government has also abolished the requirement that the "centre of gravity" be in New Zealand for these tier two parent applications. This rule had required the parent to prove that they had equal or greater number of adult children living in New Zealand and any dependent children they were bringing with them were lower in number than the adult children already resident here. Parents who don't have high income earning sponsors; investment funds or guaranteed income must have no other adult children in their home country to support them under the new rules.

It is going to be important for children seeking to sponsor their parents to New Zealand that they check to see whether their parents will qualify for residence and whether the application will be given priority or not.

We would encourage those seeking to sponsor their parent's residence application to seek legal advice to establish whether they can sponsor and ensure they understand the extent of sponsorship undertakings and the commitments they make to the Government in that regard.

The policy changes and the provisions of the Immigration Act 2009 also reflect a desire by the Government to make sponsors responsible for costs incurred by family members. We would expect to see over the next five years a programme of seeking recovery of costs incurred by the Government where the sponsors have not adhered to their undertakings.

If you require further information on this article or any information on immigration in general please contact Aaron Martin, Immigration Specialist email: aaron@turnerhopkins.

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