Parent visa details explained

On Wednesday, the Government announced that the Parent Resident Visa category was finally being reopened.

The good news is that we now have a way forward for the thousands of families hoping to be reunited with their parents. The disappointing news is that it’s going to be a long wait for parents wanting to enter the ballot announced on 12 October.

The double-edged sword: Two tiers of parent visa

Essentially the government is creating two tiers of parent category: those already in the queue under the old system and who have active Expressions of Interest (known as the Queued Pool, or QP); and those newly entering the parent category through the ballot by filing Expressions of Interest (EOIs) after 12 October, known as the Ballot Pool, or BP.

The disappointment lies in this particular double-edged sword. The number of parent visas granted each year would increase from 1000 to 2500, though these get split between the two pools and in a slightly different way. Why does this matter? It means 2000 people per annum will come out of the Queued Pool based on the date they put in their EOI, while just 500 visas get issued to people entering the Ballot Pool (BP). So, for people in the BP, that could literally mean only 250 couples get visas.

Additionally, that ballot only starts in August 2023, and as an EOI is only valid for two years from the date of submission, there’s no point in putting an EOI into the ballot until the middle of 2023.

This sad state of affairs is going to continue until the QP has been emptied, which could take years. This means the allocation of 500 visas for the BP may not increase for a considerable period of time, and this could be exacerbated by how many parents resubmit previously withdrawn EOIs and resume their place in the QP.

If you are tempted to increase your chances by registering twice in the QP – one EOI with alternate parents as principal applicants – that won’t work. INZ will withdraw one of the EOI.

And bear in mind, the BP is a ballot – anyone remember the inequities of the MIQ system when that was a ballot? The government has evidently learned very well how to delay things while making it look like they are taking positive action, because they have just set up a new MIQ system for parents.

Did you withdraw the parent EOI because Immigration New Zealand told you to?

Well, there is some hope for you. If the EOI was in the pool on 7 October 2019, and you withdrew the EOI before 12 October 2020, you can re-enter the QP and be put back in the same date order. Because the QP is going to be emptied based on date order, it may mean that you get a quicker result than you expected, but make sure you move quickly.

Expressions of Interest need to be handled with some care. Factually inaccurate information will be considered to be misleading Immigration New Zealand and, unless there was a reasonable basis for making that factually inaccurate statement, any residence case will get declined.

Some new features of note:

  1. It’s good to see that the option of pre-purchasing English language lessons to meet the minimum standard of English is still in place.
  2. The ability of siblings to jointly sponsor parents is also a welcome innovation. But be careful – both siblings have to be eligible to sponsor. That means both have to have held resident visas for the requisite period of time and be physically present in New Zealand. Additionally, they also need to have the requisite income and evidence of that income.

On that note, while the government touts a reduction in the income needed by a child to sponsor a parent, the figures are based on the current median wage of $27.76 per hour. That median wage is going to increase by almost $3 per hour to $29.66 from 27 February 2023.

That means in 2023, the median income for a single sponsor to sponsor a single parent will increase to $92,540. As the government continues to increase the median wage as a consequence of wage inflation based on Stats NZ data, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to meet the requirements when it is based on one-and-a-half times the median income.

What applicants need to think about

  • If you withdrew a parent EOI, check whether you can get them back into the QP.
  • If you are just starting out, make sure you meet the thresholds for acceptable visa sponsorship in terms of period of residence, time in New Zealand and income requirements; but hold off the EOI until closer to the draw from the ballot in August 2023.

For professional advice about your parent Expression of Interest, their eligibility, your eligibility as a sponsor or any other questions about the Parent Resident Visa, contact the experts at New Zealand Immigration Law, who can assist you at any stage of the application process.

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