Do you want to bring your parents to New Zealand? An update on the new rules.

October 9, 2019

Nicola Tiffen Partner

It has been long-awaited, but Immigration New Zealand has confirmed that they are re-opening the parent visa category, but with significant changes.

What is the current situation?

At the moment, the only way for overseas parents to gain permission to live in New Zealand is if they either:

  • meet the general immigration requirements, such as having an offer of skilled employment through the Skilled Migrant Category; or
  • have $1 million to invest, plus $500,000 to support themselves, and also an annual income of $60,000 (the Parent Retirement Category).

What happened in the past?

Up until October 2016, parents could submit an Expression of Interest into a pool of residence applications, if their NZ child earned $65000, or they had a guaranteed lifetime income of $28,166 or they have $500,000 in settlement funds.  The numbers of applicants far outweighed the number of available spaces, so waiting selection was a long-game.  However, the visa was of significant benefit to a number of New Zealand families. 

However, from October 2016, Immigration New Zealand ceased to select any further Expressions of Interest.  This left many families in limbo, waiting to see if the visa category would be reopened or not.

When is the new visa starting?

In February, parents can submit an Expression of Interest, or amend their current Expression of Interest, which they are likely to have submitted years ago.

In May, INZ will begin to select Expressions of Interest and invite parents to apply for residence.

What are the requirements?

Immigration New Zealand has not yet published its policy Instructions, so we don’t know all of the requirements.  However, we do know that:

  • There will only be 1000 places. Therefore, it will be important to have a well-prepared Expression of Interest to ensure that if it is selected, the parent can prove he or she meets the requirements.
  • The level of financial sponsorship will be a lot higher. If the NZ child is supporting only one parent, he or she must prove an income of at least $106,080 per annum.  If there are two parents, then the amount increases to $159,160.  Also, if the NZ child needs to rely on his or her partner’s income to meet the income requirements, then the level increases to $159,120 for one parent and $212,160 for two parents.  What is not clear is whether the income has to be earned in New Zealand, and in New Zealand dollars. 
  • The NZ child must also meet the income criteria for at least two of the three years before the parents apply for residence. This must be evidenced by Inland Revenue tax statements.  This implies that the New Zealand child must have been living and working in New Zealand for at least two years prior to the application being made. 
  • It is very likely that the parents will have to meet the same strict health criteria of all residence applicants. Therefore, if you are thinking of applying under this category, it is best to check whether there are any health concerns that could be addressed before submitting the application.

What happens next?

If you think you and your parents may be eligible, including meeting the income criteria, then please contact us to discuss. 

Also, the Parent Retirement Category is still operational, so this may be an option, if your parents have a retirement fund which they could move into investments in New Zealand.

If you would like to discuss further, please contact Nicola Tiffen.

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