The Immigration New Zealand announced far-reaching and sweeping changes to a much awaited announcement about the freeze which had been put on what is generally known as “Parent Category Visa”. Let us see what has changed:
The previous position prior to the changes announced on 7th October 2019:
While the Parent Category Visas and the application had been frozen in the two tiers stated below, the only pathway was through the first category stated below, which is still in effect and is practically unchanged by the recent changes:
The previous situation:
There were, prior to 07th October 2019, 3 different parent residence categories:
[if !supportLists](a) Parent Investor Category – this category’s criteria was based on investment of NZ $1 million for 4 years, settlement funds of NZ $0.5 million (half a million) plus annual income of NZ $60,000 (equivalent) per year. NZ Citizen or Resident adult child was not required to be a sponsor. It is to be noted that this category is still open and current as at the time of this article being written.
(b) Parent Tier 1 – required NZ Citizen or Resident adult child who has held residence for at least 3 years and meeting the criteria prescribed by Immigration New Zealand (INZ). The financial requirements were that either your sponsor/their partner must earn NZ $65,000 on their own or NZ $90,000 between them OR you yourself [the applicant-parent(s)] must have either NZ $0.5 million as available settlement funds OR a lifetime guaranteed income of at least NZ $27,584 (equivalent) if single or NZ $40,523 (equivalent) if with a partner or spouse. The applicant [parent(s)] were supposed to be submitting Expression of Interest and be Invited to Apply for residence. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT SINCE 2017 THIS CATEGORY HAD BEEN ON HOLD AND WAS AWAITING REVIEW.
(c) Parent Tier 2 - required parent(s)/applicant(s) to be sponsored by an NZ Citizen or Resident adult child who has held residence for at least 3 yrs and has a minimum income of at least NZ $33,675.00. You must also have no other children living lawfully & permanently in the same country. THIS CATEGORY HAD ALSO BEEN FROZEN FOR A WHILE AND AS EXPECTED, HAS BEEN ABOLISHED WITH NEW CHANGES ANNOUNCED.
Very importantly, the then Immigration Minister had blamed the migrants and there is a headline in RNZ on 12th October 2016 in an article by Benedict Coleman as follows - Migrants' parents cost NZ 'tens of millions'
The changes as announced on 07th October 2019, by immigration are given below:
Changes to the Parent Resident Visa — applications reopen in 2020
From February 2020 you can apply for a Parent Resident Visa again, although there will be changes to the criteria you need to meet.
The visa is changing
[if !supportLists]a. We are:
[if !supportLists]- [endif]limiting the number of people who can get the visa each year to 1000
[if !supportLists]- [endif]changing the financial requirements that sponsors and applicants need to meet, and
[if !supportLists]- [endif]changing the 2-tier system to a single system.
[if !supportLists]b. Changes to financial requirements
The visa will reopen with new financial requirements that applicants and sponsors must meet. Applicants will no longer have the option to apply based on their settlement funds or a guaranteed lifetime income. The income levels that sponsors need to meet will increase.
[if !supportLists]c. Sponsors will also need to meet the income criteria for 2 out of the 3 years before their parents applied for residence, and provide evidence of their annual income by providing Inland Revenue tax statements. We will update the income levels for sponsors each year based on the New Zealand median income.
The current median income is NZD $53,040.
Expected income levels for 2020
If your sponsorship is based on your personal income, you will need to earn before tax:
NZD $106,080 to sponsor 1 parent
NZD $159,120 to sponsor 2 parents.
If you are using both you and your partner's income, you will need to earn between you:
NZD $159,120 to sponsor 1 parent
NZD $212,160 to sponsor 2 parents.
You can submit new expressions of interest (EOIs) from February 2020
You can submit new EOIs in February 2020 when the visa reopens — it is temporarily closed until then so we can prepare our systems for the new requirements. We will announce an opening date in early 2020.
We will publish more information about when and how you can submit new EOIs or update your current EOI by November 2019.
We start selecting new EOIs in May 2020.
If you have an existing EOI
We will email you telling you that the visa is reopening and how it is changing. You can choose to:
[if !supportLists]· Update your EOI to meet the new requirements
[if !supportLists]· Withdraw your EOI and apply for a refund of your EOI fee
[if !supportLists]· Leave your EOI in the queue — if you think you will meet the visa’s new requirements.
We will publish more information about how to update your EOI by November 2019.
When the visa reopens, we will select EOIs based on the date we originally received them for processing, regardless of whether they were submitted under tier 1 or tier 2.
To withdraw your EOI and ask for a refund
If you no longer qualify for the visa you can withdraw your EOI and request a refund.
You need to complete the Parent Category Refund Request Form.
Send the form to us. Use post if your refund is into a credit card account, otherwise you can use email.
The following are some of the reactions in New Zealand newspapers:
'Just for the rich': Government parent visa rules criticised is the title of the article of NZ Herald dated 07 October 2019
NZ First pushed for tightening of parental visa scheme is the headline of RNZ news of 11th October 2019;
Changes to visa rules ‘kick in the teeth’ for Dunedin Cop cries out loud the Otago Daily Times, based on a story first published in RNZ
Himanshu Jasvantray Trivedi Staff Solicitor, Legal Associate