The Labour-led coalition Government has reversed another of the previous Government's clamp-downs on immigration by saying it will allow parents of skilled migrants to settle in New Zealand.
This follows a recent similar reversal on the National Government's restrictions placed on family members of temporary visa holders being allowed to come here.
These business-friendly moves on the part of the Coalition come as it battles against plummeting business confidence, and amid calls for it to provide fiscal stimulus for the economy.
Scant details of the new scheme have been provided in the initial press release from the Government but it says the numbers in the new 'Parent Category' visa programmed will be capped at 1000 people. Presumably that's an annual figure.
There's been a moratorium on parents being allowed to come here since changes implemented by National in 2016.
The new scheme will start from February 2020.
Labour campaigned in the last election on the basis of reducing immigration.
In the run up to the 2017 election, now Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said in a July 2017 media release: “Labour will take a breather on immigration while making record investments in housing, health, education, and infrastructure. We will close down the backdoor route to residency through low-level courses and low-value work."
Current Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is someone who has had previous issues with the numbers of parents coming into New Zealand.
This is the full announcement from the Government released on Monday:
As part of its work to ensure businesses can get the skilled workers they need, the Coalition Government is re-opening and re-setting the Parent Category visa programme, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says.
The move will:
- support skilled migrants who help fill New Zealand’s skills gaps by providing a pathway for their parents to join them
- remove the need for parent applicants to have guaranteed lifetime income and focus instead on the ability of their skilled migrant child to support them
- Help New Zealand businesses find the skilled labour they need
- Further strengthen the economy by helping businesses thrive.
The current scheme will be closed from today and the new Parent Category option will be opened with new criteria in February 2020 and a cap of 1,000 people.
“Skilled migrants and their parents have been in limbo since the previous National Government decided almost three years ago to effectively close the Parent Category by placing a moratorium on it. This created unnecessary and unfair uncertainty for people,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.
“This Coalition Government is committed to attracting and retaining highly-skilled migrants by providing a pathway for their parents to join them in New Zealand, while ensuring they will be supported by their children when they get here.
“The new Parent Category settings will increase financial requirements, focusing on their adult child’s income rather than the circumstances of their parent and align with the ‘highly-paid’ settings under the Skilled Migrant Category and the recent changes to employer-assisted Temporary Work visa settings.
“The ability for a parent to gain residence through having a guaranteed lifetime income or settlement funds will be removed under the new settings. Parents will still be required to meet health and character requirements as part of the application process.
“The Parent Category will be closed under its current settings from today and will re-open under the new settings from February 2020. This will allow those who have submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) under the old settings to consider what they want to do,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.
Applicants with EOIs currently in the queue will be able to update it to reflect the new requirements and hold their current place in the queue. Applicants who do not meet the new eligibility criteria will be able to withdraw their EOI and apply for a full refund.
The Parent Category enables citizens and people who have been residents for at least three years to sponsor their parents for residence in New Zealand. Parents wishing to join their children in New Zealand must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) for consideration under the Parent Category. When the EOI is selected from the pool it is assessed against current eligibility criteria and, if these are met, the parent applicant is invited to apply for residence.
Under the new settings, the financial requirement:
- for one sponsor will increase from $65,000 annual income to twice the New Zealand median income (around $106,000 a year) if sponsoring one parent and three times the New Zealand median income (around $159,000 a year) if sponsoring two parents.
- for joint sponsors will increase from $90,000 a year to three times the median income (around $159,000 a year) if sponsoring one parent and four times the median income (around $212,000 a year) if sponsoring two parents.