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Posts with tag: parent visa

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Parent category reopening

Posted by Iain on Oct. 10, 2019, 11:38 a.m. in Parent Category

Earlier this week the government announced that they are going to reopen the category for parents that they "temporarily" closed three years ago. Our inboxes have been filling up with people excitedly thinking the door is opening again and they can bring their parents to New Zealand but sadly the truth (as usual) is not quite as exciting as the headlines.

I don't want to rain on anyone's parade but there's been a lot of expectation about what the government might do. It was my view that we might end up with something more like the Australian model but what we seem to have got is a door barely opening to a tiny minority of parents wishing to join their migrant children in New Zealand.

For starters, the government has slashed the annual quota from 2000 people a year to 1000. When you think about that it means three people a day are going to be granted residence under this category. There are already thousands sitting in the parent ‘pool’ who have filed Expressions of Interest (EOI), and have been sitting, waiting and wondering for at least the past three years what the government is going to do. Those that are in the pool are going to be given priority under the new category which will kick off in February 2020.

The first Expressions of Interest will be selected in May 2020 which suggests that there will be four pool draws a year as was historically the case. Expressions of Interest will be selected based on chronological order of filing i.e. in date order.

Parents must continue to be of good health (always a potential issue with this category) and of good character (not normally a problem).

In terms of the income that sponsors must earn, it will depend whether they are single or in a partnership and whether they are sponsoring one parent or two. The income requirements are gross i.e. before tax

Single NZ resident sponsoring a single parent - $106,080                                              

Single NZ resident sponsoring two parents - $159,120                                                

Married/de facto NZ resident sponsoring a single parent - $159,120                   

Married/de facto NZ resident sponsoring two parents - $212,160     


The new rule requires the sponsor to earn this level of income for two of the three years preceding the parent filing the Expression of Interest (or Resident Visa application - which is not yet clear). That tends to suggest that the rule demanding that the sponsor holds a Resident Visa for three years before being able to sponsor their parent will remain. This will clearly add to the time that migrant children will be separated from the parent(s) they wish to sponsor.

I appreciate our clients are not necessarily representative of all skilled migrants and possibly a little wealthier than average, but still the overwhelming majority will only be able to support a parent application where both partners are working in New Zealand on much higher than the median salary (in fact three times the median) or they will never make it that $212,160 income threshold.

These income requirements are clearly designed to strictly limit entry of parents if their children are not in the top 10% or so of income earners in New Zealand. That means a lot of parents are not going to be eligible.

I always try and understand why governments do what they do and I can only interpret this as being a ‘token gesture’ policy and the Government doesn’t really want migrants bringing their parents. The economic benefit of parents coming to New Zealand and freeing up their adult children to go and work, potentially creating two tax payers because there’s now someone to look after the grandchildren, appears to not have been taken into account. Or is of no interest. The social aspects of keeping grandparents and grandchildren together have also been set aside.

I really don't understand why the government did not adopt a policy similar to Australia where they charge an enormous application fee and then let in greater numbers with a health bond attached for the first few years, returned in the event the parents don't use the health system in any significant way. That cost to a married couple is around A$100,000 so in some respects it also excludes the not very wealthy but is available to far more parents and I would've thought would have been politically palatable in New Zealand.

Those that are sitting in the pool now are going to be contacted later this year and asked whether they wish to remain in the pool or they wish to withdraw and have their application fee refunded. I imagine the significant majority will withdraw their applications because their NZ child sponsor(s) will simply not earn enough money to be able to sponsor them.

That then leads to the question of processing times. Before closing the policy in 2016 applicants were looking at 3 to 4 year timelines from when they filed the expression of interest to when they might expect to be granted a Resident Visa. I don't believe it'll take that long now simply because I believe so few parents will qualify and once the current pool is cleaned out of those who withdraw their applications, we may be back to talking about 12 to 24 months but that is pure speculation on my part. I have absolutely no doubt however that we're probably going to see 90% of EOIs being withdrawn.

I can't help but feel the presence of the Deputy Prime Minister and his anti-immigration New Zealand First Party in this. He wields power disproportionate to the 7% of the vote he got in the last election but he holds the balance of power…..and I can just imagine him saying no to every suggestion made by the much bigger Labour Party sitting around the cabinet table for something more generous to parents. I get the feeling that the NZ First tail keeps wagging this dog when it comes to immigration policy.

The message then is pretty clear to me – if you wish to move to New Zealand, most likely as a skilled migrant, you probably won't be able to bring your parents.

Unless that is you are in the top 5-10% of wage and salary earners.

Until next week 

Iain MacLeod 

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Tags: parent visa

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

Your Parents - Can They Come to NZ Too?

Posted by Iain on July 14, 2018, 12:17 p.m. in Parent Category

I am often asked how parents can join their children and grandchildren in New Zealand.

Historically there were two pathways:

  1. Joining one already NZ resident and well settled adult child and demonstrating that the NZ child, as sponsor, earned enough to fulfil their obligations such as they were; or
  2. Parent Investor Category - where parents have to invest $1 million for a period of four years.

The first was always far more popular than the second for obvious reasons; no investment was needed. That was until the category was ’temporarily’ put on hold two years ago. I was advised a few months ago that the outcome of the planned review of the decision to keep it on hold was going to be made in June of this year, but was then advised in April the Government had other priorities. I really thought that a left leaning Government as we now have would be more likely to re-open it than the last right leaning one that put things on hold. Alas, it has not turned out to be.

The risk of course is the longer they leave it the greater the numbers seeking one of the places within the quota (2200 per year when it was closed down) and if they do re-open it, the problem, if that’s how the government views it, will only become compounded. I am sure the Minister must be receiving hundreds of requests from people to let their parents come and stay permanently. We are certainly looking at filing a few.

The second option is the investment pathway, but clearly this is really only for the small numbers of independently wealthy. The main criteria for these parents to qualify are:

  1. Have at least one adult child in NZ with a resident visa;
  2. Have a verifiable net worth of NZ$ 1.5 million;
  3. Be prepared to invest $1 million of that $1.5 million for four years (subject to visa approval) which involves at application stage providing a list of ’nominated assets';
  4. Have had an income in the 12 months preceding the application of NZ$ 60,000.00; and
  5. Be of good health and character.

Like all ‘investors’, it is critical that the parents can show that the funds they intend transferring to NZ were lawfully earned or acquired, which can be onerous. Further, they must then demonstrate via the evidential paper trail the transfer of the ’nominated funds’ to NZ down to the last dollar, i.e. they cannot introduce new funds to invest that were not previously cleared and approved by the Immigration Department.

The interest or other income they derive from their NZ investments is theirs to keep. There is no requirement to earn any additional money whilst in NZ. This is important because they are unlikely to ever qualify for a state pension (they must reside in NZ for ten years to become eligible).

I was surprised when the previous Government put things on hold given the often vital role these (grand)parents play. Valuable not only socially in terms of family cohesion but also economically as so many become secondary caregivers to their grandchildren, while the parents of these children are out working. 

NZ gets two taxpayers rather than one parent working and one staying at home with the children.  

Of course many of these parents themselves are fit and healthy and want to work and contribute before they start consuming services, so by letting them in we may in fact get four tax payers - themselves and their children who would not otherwise have come to NZ.

If, as I suspect, the previous Government slammed the door shut on older people for perceived economic reasons (they saw them as a drain on public services, particularly health) I wonder what analysis they ever did on the ‘big picture’ covering say the three generations that usually are in that picture being parents, children and their children.

That is, if we get those grandparents' children both working while they look after their grandchildren, simple maths would suggest that the net cost to the state is almost certainly neutral.

This is reinforced by the fact that these migrant applicant parents likely have migrant applicant children and those children will, if they gained residence as skilled migrants, be more educated and earn more than the ‘average’ Kiwi and therefore will pay more tax. It is only a hunch on my part but if we can attract more skilled migrants (we didn’t fill last year's quota of skilled migrants by close to 35% because we have raised the bar so high) in part because they know they can bring their parents once they are well settled (currently three years which is stupidly long) then I would challenge anyone to provide me with evidence that these older folks are any sort of net cost at all.

But then that is all a bit logical I suspect.

It is time that the Government, in the national interest, re-opened the first pathway and let parents who may not have enough to invest, join their children in New Zealand.

Until next week...

Iain MacLeod, Southern Man

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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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