Important Immigration
Policy Changes

Article published in New Zealand, September 2012

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has recently changed its policy in respect of the “Sibling and Adult Child” and “Parent” avenues to permanent residence.

The Sibling and Adult Child category has been closed permanently, primarily because it failed to generate sufficient economic benefit to New Zealand (NZ). A NZ permanent resident or citizen is no longer able to sponsor his or her siblings or adult child for a residence visa. Under the new policy, young adult children (aged between 18 and 20) are not required to prove that they are financially dependent, but they must be single, have no children and be included in the prior residence application lodged by the parent/s. This policy came into effect on 15 May 2012.

The change to the Parent Category policy has a significant impact on parent residence applications. Effective 30 July 2012, an Expression of Interest (EOI) system has been introduced. Similar to the Skilled Migrant Category, submission of an EOI is required for the purpose of meeting the new Parent Category requirement. In tandem with the change, INZ also introduced a new Two-tier system.

The following are the Tier-one criteria:

  1. Applicants (parents) must have a guaranteed lifetime income. For a couple, they have to show a minimum income of $39,890 per annum. For a single person, the amount is $27,203 per annum; or
  2. The sponsoring child must have an income of at least $65,000 per annum and $90,000 for a couple; or
  3. Applicants must have settlement funds of at least $500,000 (which has to be transferred to NZ within 12 months upon approval in principle); and
  4. Applicants must not have any dependent children; and
  5. Applicants must attain IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Level 4 or above or equivalent, or pre-purchase English tuition at a cost of $1,735.00.

The Tier-two requirements are:

  1. The sponsoring child’s income is at least $33,675 per annum; and
  2. Applicants must not have any dependent children; and
  3. If applicants have other adult children, the children must all live lawfully and permanently outside the country in which the parents live; and
  4. Applicants must attain IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Level 4 or above, or pre-purchase English tuition at a cost of $1,735.00.

The sponsorship term for parents, under both tiers, remains at five years.

The practical mechanism is that qualified applicants enter into a pool as soon as their EOIs are received. A draw from the pool takes place every three months (February, May, August and November). It is important to note that priority is always given to the Tier-one stream. Tier-two EOIs will fill the remaining places, if any.

INZ has clearly lifted the threshold for the Parent Category with a key objective being to ensure that the sponsoring children earn enough to support their parents, or the parents have enough income and/or capital of their own, without seeking assistance from the government.

The above article is provided for general information purpose and does not constitute legal advice.

We invite you to contact us at to discuss your specific circumstances prior to making your residence application.

Enquiry Form