New Zealand adjusts immigration policy for family members

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New Zealand Immigration Minister David Cunliffe announced new immigration policies that will make it easier for citizens to bring family members into the country for visits.

"The changes recognize the importance of family support and make the immigration system more transparent," Cunliffe said.

"Parents and grandparents play a key role in family life. The new policies will make it easier for family from offshore to visit," he added.

Starting in November there will be a new multiple visit visa for parents and grandparents visiting family in New Zealand. The visa will allow them to travel back and forth to New Zealand over a three-year period without the need to apply for a new visa each time.

Changes were also announced for the sponsorship of parents, adult children, and siblings in the family residence immigration categories. These include:

  • Establishing a quota for the sponsorship of parents, adult children, and adult siblings to come to New Zealand as permanent residents
  • Introducing more stringent "character criteria" for people wishing to sponsor partners to come to New Zealand
  • Introducing a minimum income requirement of NZD $29,897.92 (approximately USD $23,000) for sponsors of parents
  • Extending the timeframe for sponsors to guarantee support for their parents from two years to five years (effective with the passing of the Immigration Bill in 2008)
  • Withdrawing the existing Family Quota immigration category

The 2007-2008 quotas for parents, adult children, and adult siblings will be based on actual numbers from previous years. There will be 3100 to 3400 places for parents, 250 to 350 places for adult children, and 1100 to 1250 places for adult siblings during this period.

"The largest part of our residence programme will continue to be for skilled migrants and their immediate families. There will be no change to the current distribution of places with 60 percent of residence places for skilled migrants, 30 percent for family related places and 10 percent for our international and humanitarian obligations," Cunliffe said.

New Zealand's skilled immigration program operates on a points based system that assesses an applicant's abilities based on experience, age, and other criteria.

Cunliffe stated that the changes making it easier for people to bring family members to visit New Zealand are being balanced by tighter requirements in some cases.

"The family package announced today recognises the important role extended families play in enhancing settlement outcomes for our valued migrants. While the existing share of the total residence program has been preserved, enhanced character and sponsorship requirements ensure a transparent and sustainable family residence program," he said.