Letters from Southern Man

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Letters from the Southern Man

Migrating is more than just filling in forms and submitting paperwork, its a complex process that will test even the most resilient of people. 

Understanding New Zealand is paramount to your immigration survival and to give you a realistic view of the country, its people and how we see the world, read our weekly Southern Man blogs. Often humorous, sometimes challenging, but always food for thought.

It's curtains for many parents

Posted by Iain on March 8, 2012, 1:57 p.m. in Immigration

It's curtains for many parents

In a recent blog I questioned why the Government appeared to discriminate so strongly against parents of migrants.

Now we know.

They simply don’t want them to migrate to New Zealand. Not if they are from China, India, the Pacific Islands or other parts of the third world it appears.

In a cabinet briefing paper leaked earlier this week the Government signalled that it is about to change the parent category and:

1. Make it even more restrictive for most; but

2. Fast track and prioritise those parents who qualify and have money or wealthy children here.

Essentially at the moment healthy parents of good character qualify if:

1. They have same or more adult children living in New Zealand than in any other country (including the home country) and one of those children has held a residence visa for three years; or

2. They have no adult children living in the home country but at least one adult children with a residence visa of NZ and who has lived here for three years.

3. If in 1 above the parents still have any dependent children they still qualify so long as they have no more than the numbers of adult (independent) children living in this country

They must be healthy and of good character but that’s where it ends – their English language ability, income, financial position or that of their children here do not enter into the equation.

Until July that is.

Government is I have no doubt about to implement the following changes (and even more quickly than they might have been going to now that the cabinet paper is in the public domain given they have been toying with change for years):

1. Status quo for wealthier parents i.e. they must have the same or more adult children here,, no more dependents living with them as independents living here.

2. If they are alone in the home country and have the at least one adult child resident in New Zealand. 

Poorer parents however will need to be alone in the home country, and:

3. have no dependent children;

4. If they have poor English they will be forced to pre-purchase English language tuition;

5. Their applications will be tossed into the never never queue.

So parents who have funds behind them (capital or guaranteed income) of a certain level (as yet unspecified but one assumes independent enough to not put their hands out to too any Government agencies once they get here) will be fast tracked.

If their adult child here who sponsors their parent(s), is a high income individual, this will also allow the parental residence visa application to be fast tracked.

I assume the three year requirement for the sponsor to be here before they can sponsor their parents will fall away if the sponsor and/or the parent is wealthy enough. That remains to be seen however.

Why are they doing this?

I suspect few categories give the current Associate Minister of Immigration as much grief as this one as she is constantly asked to make exceptions where the ‘centre of gravity’ does not exist in New Zealand (the same or more children here than elsewhere). I field enough desperate adult children seeking our assistance in these situations to have some sympathy for the Minister – she must get close to 100 a week – we probably ‘only’ get one a day.

And of course there’s China and India.

China’s one child policy means that every time a skilled migrant lands here from China (and they make up a significant percentage of our overall migrant intake) the Government knows that after three years we are quite probably going to get two parents who are likely to speak little to no English, be poor and present increased risk of requiring Government support especially in areas of health. If that skilled migrant happens to married then New Zealand is going to get two sets of parents – so we get two skilled migrants adding to our economic base and four parents taking from it. That’s the theory anyway. The powers that be have concluded the economic cost is greater than the overall economic benefit (I’d like to see the numbers because I am pretty sure they could not quantify their argument).

Not belittling (as the Government appears to be) the often vital social and economic role these parents can play with their grandchildren as secondary care givers it is my view that this is a fair enough change. If these parents have money they are going to be more self sufficient. We have our own aging population and increasing pressure on the tax payer funded health system as a result.

I am less convinced as to the importance of speaking English. Especially if they are Chinese or Indian and living in Auckland where you can get by very nicely without speaking English.

That the Government has recognised that those that otherwise meet policy and are financially independent means their applications will be prioritised and fast tracked is quite sensible. It certainly has my support.

People will object to this policy. They will argue it discriminates against parents. Of course it does but Immigration policy is by its very nature discriminatory and to decide which parents come and which don’t is New Zealand’s right. The flip side however is this country will also miss out on a percentage of skilled migrants and Investors (I am dealing with one right now) who will not settle here knowing they may not ever be able to bring their parents to join them. I think right now the new Zealand Government would simply shrug its shoulders and say ’So what?’ given they have slashed skilled migrant numbers as well and as I wrote about recently appear in no hurry to reverse.

When the Government decides however they once again want 27,000 skilled migrants a year along with their dependents and children they might just find that these sorts of decisions limiting the number of ‘social’ migrants, as they like to call parents, comes back to haunt them.

They have also signalled the end of the Sibling Category which is as it should be. A logistical nightmare for applicants and us as advisers, the numbers of these visas are very small and most siblings who want to join family here with skilled job offers will qualify regardless. Less skilled siblings will miss out which is a little cruel but again, we have enough of our own unskilled (no excuse for them to be so given the opportunities here for advancement, but we do).

Until next week.


Southern Man – Iain MacLeod

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