29 Nov 2016

Sponsorship period for immigrants' parents doubles

12:00 pm on 29 November 2016

Immigrants will have to support their parents financially for a decade if they are approved to settle in New Zealand, under new rules the government has introduced to cut spending on immigration.

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The sponsorship period for migrants financially supporting their parents has increased from five to ten years. Photo: 123rf.com

It doubles the five-year sponsorship period adult children sign up to when they apply for their parents to join them.

The increase is the latest in a series of policy settings that the government has changed because of concerns about immigrant numbers and costs.

A freeze on the parent category began last month.

Immigration New Zealand said the sponsorship period increase from five to ten years would affect those people who had already been invited to apply, and anyone who applied in the future.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced the freeze last month, saying immigrants' parents were seeking income support because they did not have the means to sustain themselves, despite sponsorship commitments.

He said it was costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year, with health services also burdened.

Every year, about 5500 parents of migrants settle in New Zealand, of whom about half are Chinese and around 20 percent are Indian.

Immigration New Zealand's operational policy manager, Nick Aldous, said a review of the parent category was underway.

He said the change to the sponsorship period was agreed to as long ago as 2011 to limit fiscal costs, but required a law change.

"The changes which have been made to both numbers and (over recent years) policy settings are in response to concerns that the overall costs of the Parent Category to the New Zealand community should be limited," he said. "The upcoming review will also address these concerns."

The government also announced last month it aimed to rein in the number of residents under the skilled migrant category and raised the points threshold immigrants must meet to apply.

Mr Woodhouse said a review of work visas was also underway.

Last week, a change to rules came into force meaning South Africans now have to apply for a visitor visa before travelling to New Zealand.

Previously visitors could be granted a visa on arrival through the visa waiver system.