NZ Parent Residence – Where is it at?

In 2012 Immigration New Zealand changed its Residence category for NZ Citizens and Residents to sponsor their parents for Residence.  That option may be up for grabs again soon.

There are 2 streams of Parent Residence:

  • Tier 1, which allows parents who can bring a lot of money to NZ, or sponsors who earn a good income, to put in a “fast-track” application; and
  • Tier 2, for all the rest, who have to wait longer.

However, don’t think of Tier 1 as a real “fast track”.  Immigration is limiting the number of places for Parent applications.  Although they claim that they aim to process these cases in 4 – 6 months, in reality it could take a year or more to get through the process.  This is according to what some professional advisers are telling me.

As for Tier 2 – well, we don’t even bother offering it to our people.  Immigration’s own guess about timeframes is about 5 years.

The fact is that the Government treats “family” applications like the Parent category as one of its lowest priority Residence quotas.  As a colleague commented to me today, perhaps the Government hopes that if the process takes long enough, then in the meantime the parents will die off and they won’t need to give them Residence.

Immigration is currently reviewing the policy, and as a member of the NZAMI Policy Committee I will probably help to make some suggestions about how this policy should work – if it continues at all.  The problem is that the Government’s focus is on getting people in who can bring a lot of skills (Skilled Migrant) or a lot of money and/or business experience (Investor).  Parents, who may be retired, don’t figure in that “profit” equation very highly.  This is despite the fact that they might still be able to work (some are semi-retired professionals like doctors who might end up working in the country where we have a chronic shortage of GPs); or else they bring a lot of “soft” benefits, such as caring for the children of their sponsor who needs to focus on their highly-skilled job which is the reason they got their own Residence in the first place.

It is quite possible that the Parent Category could be closed altogether.  After all, look at what happened to the Sibling/Adult Child Policy in May 2012.  The announcement that this category would be cancelled forever came out only 5 days before the final deadline, catching out hundreds of families who had already invested time and money in getting the papers together.

All of the above means that people who seriously want to bring their parents over need to get started on the process right away.  Although the policy is quite straightforward in some ways, we have seen difficulties in people proving that they can bring over $500,000 in assets (which is only one of the three ways to qualify, although it is commonly used).  Then there are changes in family circumstances during the application process itself which could mean that the parents have to rely on (say) the level of their sponsor’s income instead.

We have worked through a few of these and have a fair idea of the pitfalls and what to look for when we first start discussing this option with a client.  Just one example of this is where the parents originally got Residence for themselves and their children – maybe 20 years ago – but lost it because they never lived here.  Years later, their children who have become Citizens try to sponsor them for Residence, only to discover that, owing to an obscure rule, they are not allowed to do so.  It happens surprisingly often.  The records of the appeal Tribunal are littered with scenarios just like this.

Other experienced lawyers and immigration advisers are out there who can help too.  In general, we suggest that if you want to get things right, ask for professional assistance.  If for some reason an application is declined and you have to start again, you might find that you cannot re-apply because the Policy has gone.

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About Simon Laurent, Lawyer

Principal of LaurentLaw Barristers & Solicitors. NZ immigration law specialist.
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