The changes to immigration family policies will help New Zealand attract and retain skilled migrants, and ensure that family migrants can settle well and are self-sufficient.
New Zealand faces growing global competition for migrants with the skills we need to grow our economy. Being able to sponsor your parents to live here is important to help attract and retain skilled migrants. As a result of these policy changes, many skilled migrants who wish to sponsor their parents for residence here will experience a swifter decision and less bureaucratic criteria, This will give New Zealand a competitive advantage in the international hunt for these highly skilled workers.
These immigration policy changes will also help ensure we are attracting family migrants who are self-sufficient and can settle well. The door will still be open to parents of other migrants but their applications will not be prioritised.
There will be a new two-tier system for applications, with common and also some different requirements for each tier.
Tier one will be given priority processing ahead of tier two.
There will be no change to the requirement for sponsors to be either New Zealand citizens or residents for three years.
There will be no change to health and character requirements for parents.
Sponsorship includes a responsibility on the sponsor to ensure the sponsored person has accommodation and maintenance for a specified time while in New Zealand. Sponsors are also responsible for the costs of outward travel (if repatriation or deportation is required).
The sponsorship term will remain at five years but the Government has decided it will amend the Immigration Act 2009 at some time in the future which will extend the sponsorship term to 10 years.
The timing for this amendment has not been decided.
This is to prevent the Parent Category queue from growing excessively, since the current “centre of gravity” restrictions will not apply to Tier One. This Tier Two requirement enables those parents who do not have the support of a son or daughter in their home country the opportunity to apply for residence.
This is to avoid chain migration (whereby, for example, a migrant sponsors a family member who in turn sponsors a family member and so on). New Zealand wants most migrants to qualify on their own merits rather than on the basis of extended family relationships.
Applications for Sibling and Adult Child Category will close at midnight on May 15 and will not reopen. From this date New Zealand citizens and residents will no longer be able to sponsor their siblings or adult children for New Zealand residence.
However, applications already received will continue to be processed. In addition:
The Sibling and Adult Child Category will close because this category does not generate sufficient economic benefit for New Zealand.
Only 66 percent of sponsored siblings and adult children interviewed 18 months after gaining residence had jobs, despite a job offer for ongoing and sustainable employment being a key requirement of this policy.
Siblings and adult children with the skills New Zealand needs can continue to apply under the Skilled Migrant Category and may get an extra 10 points for having close family in New Zealand.
Once the current queue of applications has been cleared, the approximately 1,400 annual residence places currently used for siblings and adult children will be transferred to the Skilled Migrant Category.
The criteria is being relaxed so that young adult children aged 18 to 20 may be eligible for residence - even if they have a job in their home country - provided they are single, have no children and are included, or were declared, in their parents’ residence application.
Previously adult children in that age group were not able to come to New Zealand if they could not show they were financially dependent, such as if they had a job in their home country.
Those aged 21 to 24 will still need to show that they are financially dependent.
Ten years after the changes are fully implemented (including the extension of the sponsorship period to 10 years) the Department of Labour has estimated that benefit costs from the Parent Category could reduce by up to $34 million annually. There would also be an annual saving of $6 million from the closure of the Sibling and Adult Child Category.
In addition to these savings, more facilitating policy settings for the parents of skilled migrants will help New Zealand to attract and retain more people with the skills we need to grow our economy.