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Immigration Blog


Posts with tag: parent category

Immigration Blog

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 Australia & New Zealand at a grass-roots level is paramount to your immigration survival, and to give you a realistic view of both countries, its people and how we see the world, as well as updates about any current or imminent policy changes, subscribe to our regular blog posts by entering your details below.

Your Parents in Australia - Is It Possible?

Posted by Myer on July 16, 2018, 7:48 p.m. in Australia

It’s a tough decision to immigrate, that often has broader implications for other family members that may want to join those immigrating to Australia. One of the most frequently asked questions we receive in consultations are “what are the chances of my parents being able to join us?”.

This blog isn’t meant to be an exhaustive examination of all of the options available to parents but covers some of the more mainstream visa types.

Given the length of processing time of permanent residence parent visa applications, these days parents need to also consider short-term temporary visas such as visitors visas that enable them to live in Australia on a temporary basis whilst the permanent resident visa is being processed.

I have provided an overview of the criteria for permanent residence as well as temporary residence in the paragraphs below.

There are certain basic requirements that have to be met by all permanent residence visas for parents and they are summarised as follows:

  • Parents must have an Australian child who is a citizen or permanent resident “settled” in Australia willing to sponsor them. It’s generally accepted that “settled” requires the sponsoring child to have been living in Australia for a period of two years prior to the parent visa application.
  • A “Balance of Family Test” needs to be met, which in its simplest form requires at least 50% of the parent’s children to be permanently residing in Australia or have more children in Australia than any other country. It’s important to include the combined children of both parents, normally not an issue but in cases where parents have had children with other partners it’s a consideration that needs to be born in mind and
  • The sponsoring child must be over 18 

There are basically two types of permanent resident visa for parents namely contributory and non-contributory. However given the fact that processing time of a non-contributory parent visa application is in the region of 30 years (no, really), it’s not practical to rely upon this type of visa to obtain permanent residence.

As far as contributory parent visa applications a distinction is made for parents applying onshore (in Australia) and offshore.

Onshore “Aged” Parent – Contributory (Subclass 864)

It’s called an aged parent visa because the parent who is the primary applicant has to be of retirement age. The Contributory Parent Visa is the fastest way for your parents to stay permanently in Australia. Whilst this is the most expensive option (because of the rather large “contribution” that your parents make to Australia in terms of Visa application charges) waiting times are in the region of 30 months at present.

The “contribution” made to the Australian Government by way of visa application charges of approximately AUD$ 92 355 for a couple of parents may seem large however you need to bear in mind that these contributory parent Visa applications, once approved give applicants access to government funded healthcare (Medicare) and Australia is essentially bearing the risk of future medical costs which could be incurred by ageing parents. It’s estimated that total cost of parents immigrating to Australia is in the region of 3.2 billion and each individual parent is estimated at between $335,000 and $410,000 after health, welfare and aged-care costs are added to the equation.

Of course you need to be inside Australia at time of application and hold a visa that does not prohibit you from filing an onshore application in Australia. I am specifically referring to those visas that do not contain a “No Further Stay condition” which would prohibit you from filing an application within Australia.

Because of the relatively long processing times parents may have the right to work in Australia while they are waiting for their visa to be granted.

This type of scenario would cover those parents arriving in Australia on visitors visas that do not have “no further stay conditions” and then file aged parent contributory parent visa applications onshore in Australia. Once there tourist visa expires (after a period of three months) they can then remain in Australia on bridging visas which keep them lawful whilst the aged contributory parent visa is processed.

Contributory Parent Visa (Subclass 143)

This is the offshore version of the contributory parent visa application. The requirements are fairly similar to the onshore version except that for the offshore version parents don’t have to be of retirement age. Because of the time it takes to process these applications (the Department currently quotes 44 – 56 months) it would be common for parents wanting to visit their children in Australia to apply for temporary visitors visas that enable them a longer stay in Australia and for these parents.

They would probably apply for a Long Stay Visitors Visa (Subclass 600) which can be granted for periods of 5 years, 3 years, 18 months or just 12 months but whichever duration of long stay visitors visa your parent receives please bear in mind that these visas only allow parents to spend 12 months in any 18 month period in Australia as visitors and don’t allow parents to work. 

It wasn’t that long ago that I remember contributory parent visa applications being processed in 12 months and it’s quite frightening to think that this “quicker” option of obtaining permanent residence for parents has ballooned to processing times of 44 – 56 months.

With the restrictive “cap” or quota applied to parent visa applications on the part of the Department of Home Affairs and the contentious issue of the actual healthcare costs of aged parents it’s foreseeable that it can only get tougher to obtain permanent residence in Australia for parents.


- Myer Lipschitz, Managing Partner & Immigration Attorney, IMMagine Melbourne Office

Bringing Your Parents to New Zealand

Posted by Iain on Feb. 16, 2018, 11:46 a.m. in Parent Category

Many clients ask us what the options are to bring their parents over to NZ to join them.

If they are older than 56, their options are limited to two potential pathways only:

  1. Parent Category – two sub-categories, one of which we will ignore here as to all intents and purposes it’s a blind alley
  2. Parent Retirement Category

In recent years Government has been cutting back on the annual quotas on the first from around 5000 three years ago to a little over 2000 today. As a consequence of having enough applicants in the system no more applications have been accepted over the past couple of years and there is no official indication of when they might open up again. If it is purely mathematics, we are picking another 12-18 months.

For Parents (the first category above) the primary criteria are:

  1. have at least one adult child ordinarily and permanently resident in NZ (hold a resident visa for a minimum of three years and live in NZ); and
  2. if the sponsoring child is single they must earn gross $65,000 per annum and if they are in a relationship (has a ‘partner’) it increases to $90,000
  3. good health and character

Note the old rule of having to have the same number or more adult children resident in NZ no longer applies, there is no age cut off and there is no minimum funds required to be brought with.

The issue with this pathway is the time it takes to file an Expression of Interest, be selected from the pool, be invited to apply for residence and then prepare and process the resident visa application. The time it takes is longer than parents can remain in NZ on temporary visas and it creates all sorts of problems if you are trying to keep parents together with the family. I suspect every week scores of parents approach the Minister of Immigration to grant a ‘special direction’ which seeks an extended temporary stay. While every family will have many good reasons why their parents are different I rather suspect that the vast majority are rejected.

I have never quite understood why NZ has cut back on parent entry to NZ they so often act as secondary care givers to younger migrant families with children and create for the economy a second tax payer. Often one or both parents work too – my oldest that was still working was into her eighties. She worked because she wanted to and paid the same tax as the rest of us.

Australia makes parents pay an upfront fee of around A$47,000 per parent to ‘compensate’ for the tax they have never paid and a $10,000 deposit which I understand is returned at the ten year mark if they haven’t used expensive local health services. I am sure the Aussies are playing politics with this, but it makes the category suit everyone (that can afford it).

The Parent Retirement Category was once seldom offered as an option but has been increasing in popularity since the restrictions were placed on the Parent Category.

Under this pathway parents must:

  1. have an adult child with a resident visa
  2. have a net worth (cash and/or assets) of NZ$1.5 million
  3. be willing to invest $1m (of the $1.5m) for a period of 4 years
  4. have available $500,000 (of the $1.5m) for settlement (not mandatory to bring it)
  5. have an income of $60,000 per annum*
  6. be of good health and character

*Like so much of the NZ rule book it is silent on how long that level of income must have existed, current interpretation is the 12 months preceding the application.

For those that can afford it this ‘Retirement’ category is a really good option.

I do wonder however as the Government stays silent on when they might reopen the first of these two pathways if there might be greater scrutiny placed on the second.

I find the system has a way of pushing back on applicants if the bureaucrats decide people are taking a different pathway to what the ‘system’ historically experienced. Lord knows why they don’t realise that if you block one pathway up the mountain and people want to get to the top they’ll find another.

One way it seems to be pushing back is on health criteria. Obviously the older we are the more likely it is they may be suffering the general physical decline that comes with age. The Medical Assessors that sit in judgment on all migrants are at the best of times tough and in my view often poorly informed and unreasonable. Luckily, all resident visa applicants including parents have the right to argue what is known as a medical waiver if their health is found to be less than optimal. A medical waiver doesn’t really come with rules – it is up to the applicant to argue why letting them stay in NZ is so important.

Until next week...

Iain MacLeod, Southern Man

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Skilled Migrant Category Review

Posted by Iain on Oct. 21, 2016, 3:49 p.m. in Immigration


It’s the thing about Governments everywhere I suppose. They have to give the illusion of being in control even if they are not.

The announcement two weeks ago of the pass mark increasing to 160 from 100 had an instantaneous impact on the numbers of Expressions of Interest being selected from the pool - it cut them by around 50% which was exactly what was intended. No surprises there.

The demonstration of lack of control came from the fact that the numbers of EOIs sitting in the pool that the computer had to select because ever increasing numbers were claiming 100 points or more including an offer of ‘skilled’ employment was allowed to grow and grow and grow. In the end the Government simply had to act - the ‘tsunami’ of EOIs I have so often written about and spoken about at seminars was washing ashore. Big time.

I still get this picture in my mind of Government Ministers standing in a huddled group on a beach with their backs to the sea wondering why everyone was running away for higher ground.  With puzzled looks on their faces they are asking one another ‘What’s the threat? What’s the problem? We can’t see any problem.There’s no problem here’.

Having been told by those that should know less than six months ago the Skilled Migrant Category was not going to be seriously reviewed for some time (policy review priorities lay elsewhere, principally with the Investor and Entrepreneur Categories) all of sudden the Minister announces that it is in fact being reviewed. Nothing to do with the system about to crash under the weight of EOIs, nothing to do with focus groups and polling showing immigration is going to a very hot topic in the run up to next year’s elections, nothing to do with the fact that the ‘quality’ those being selected has been falling for some time, nothing to do with Auckland house prices…..all now seemingly just one of these three yearly reviews ‘we always do’. A ‘tweak here’ and a ‘tweak there’ as you do when you are on top of the situation.

Except this one wasn’t gong to be reviewed for some time yet…and it won’t just be tweaks.

Government released a hastily put together public consultation document this week and has asked for feedback on how the rules might be ‘tweaked’ in order to improve quality. Over about two weeks.

What is clear is that New Zealand is in great demand as a migrant destination and we can choose who we want and likewise who we don’t want when we have so many to choose from.

So who don’t we now want?

The consultation document is interesting in that it essentially confirms everything I predicted it would in last week’s blog.

If the changes which are at this stage (if you can believe it) only talking points you can expect by mid 2017 to see a shift toward:

1. More highly educated applicants i.e. whereas qualifications have not been a pre-requisite for entry for the best part of five years now, they will play an increasingly important role in the future. The days of getting a resident Visa based on your age, work experience and having a skilled job offer are over for the time being.

2. More highly paid applicants - there is clear signal that entry level but skilled job offers are not going to be enough to get younger applicants over the finish line - I predicted last week salaries would come into the mix to both assist with determining skill level of jobs but also to act as a mechanism to prevent younger, less experienced applicants taking places in the programme away from older more experienced applicants.

3. Potentially applying a minimum work experience requirement on all applicants - designed clearly to cut out the young, international student who has studied in New Zealand. This takes  a leaf out of the Australian song book which they also introduced a few years ago to deal with the same issue of over promising international students a pathway to residence in order to develop an export education industry.

4. To focus through points on those aged 30-39 as being the ‘optimum’ aged applicants. This shouldn’t mean that older applicants won’t be able to still qualify and I’d suggest for those with higher education, jobs outside of Auckland and higher than median salaries they’ll still be okay.

I made the suggestion last week these rushed changes now and the more considered ones to follow in 2017 is designed to all intents and purposes to solve one problem - when you have a 23 year old who came to NZ to study (on the promise by the government of a pathway to residence) but that youngster is competing say with the 35 year old software developer for a single place in the SMC programme, the government was  forced  to decide which of the two was of more ‘value’ to the economy.

The answer is obvious to me but it does not bode well for the tens of thousands of international students lured here by Government, less than honest education agents overseas (unlicensed) and a fair number of private and public education providers who saw nothing but fees and commissions at the end of a principally Indian rainbow.

I was invited to a meeting a few nights ago where the Minister of Immigration was speaking to a small group of predominantly white, oldish men in cheap, ill fitting grey suits (bankers and investment types for the most part). Never have I seen a man’s lips move so much without actually saying very much and when he did it was by and large, garbage.

With a completely straight face he laid the ‘blame’ for the unfortunate reality about to confront thousands of international students who will not now get residence firmly at the feet of (unlicensed) education agents. 

For the second time in a week I heard him say ‘We (the Government) never promised anyone residence. Coming to New Zealand should only ever have been about getting a ‘world class’ education.’

That will come as a surprise to more than a few students. If this is the case why did the Government offer them all open work visas when they finished their study if it wasn't designed to provide a pathway into a labour market and from there to a resident visa?

Now that rug has been clumsily pulled from right under their feet, not by agents but by the government, Ministers I guess have to be seen to be controlling the situation as if this was their plan all along.

I’d be interested what a lot of these international students might think about it all given for a great number of them their dreams of settling here have been ripped out from under them and by mid 2017 any chance most have will surely be extinguished for good.

My only surprise about all this is that so far few seem to have cottoned on to what the Government has just done.

What they have done last week is to stick their finger in the dyke to try and hold back this ‘tsunami’ of graduate students looking for residence but the point that appears to have escaped these youngsters is how the government is about to start draining the lake behind the dyke without those frolicking in and on it realising they are the ones about to be drained.

I have to say it is quite a sight to watch the Government try and defend the indefensible and how incredibly well they seem to have done so. Equally how their target appears to have missed it completely (and by and large as has the media).

Whilst they were rapidly losing control of a situation of their own making the Government is doing a jolly good job of making it look they are in control. 

First line of attack - blame someone else.

Until next week

Iain MacLeod - Southern Man

It's curtains for many parents

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

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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