Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced that it is temporarily suspending the parent category. What does this mean for your parents and what can you do?

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced that it is temporarily suspending the parent category, as of 12 October 2016.

The number of number of spaces available under the scheme is being reduced from 11,000 (for the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 years) to 4,000 (for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 years).

This effectively means that unless your parents are already part-way through the application process, they are very unlikely to be able to gain residence through the parent category, at least for the next two years.

The parent category will be reviewed over the coming months. We do not yet know what the new criteria will be. However, they will be much stricter to ensure that the new cap is adhered to without creating long queues.

How did the parent category work?

New Zealand citizens or residents, who have lived here for at least three years, could sponsor their parents to obtain residence.

The process involved submitting an Expression of Interest (EOI) to INZ. When a space became available under the scheme, INZ could select the EOI and send the parent(s) an Invitation to Apply. The parent(s) could then formally apply for residence.

EOIs were selected in the order that they were received. However, EOIs for "Tier One" applications were usually selected first. Parents could ensure their application was Tier One, if they had either a certain level of guaranteed income, funds to bring with them to New Zealand, or their sponsoring child was earning at a certain level (at least $65,000 per annum).

What do the changes mean?

If your parents have not yet started the process, which means they have not submitted an EOI, then INZ recommends that they do not start. The reduced number of places means that INZ is unlikely to select any more EOIs in the next two years. After those two years we do not know what the new criteria will be for selection.

If your parents have submitted an EOI but not yet received an Invitation to Apply, it is very unlikely that they will. Therefore, they will not be able to proceed with their application at least for the next two years. They may also need to meet the new and as yet unknown criteria.

If your parents have received an Invitation to Apply, then they can proceed with submitting their formal application. However, their application is unlikely to be decided until after July 2018. This is just because there are less spaces, so a longer queue is forming.

If your parents have already submitted their formal application, then their application may also not be decided until after July 2018, depending on where it is in the queue.

Are there any other ways to get residence for my parents?

If your parents have $1million to invest in New Zealand, plus $500,000 in funds to help them settle, and also a guaranteed income of at least $60,000 per annum, they may be able to qualify for residence under the Parent Retirement Category.

Are there any other options for having my parents with me in New Zealand?

Your parents may be eligible for a multiple-entry visitor visa. This would allow them to spend 18 months in New Zealand, over at least three separate six-month visits, within a three year period

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