New Zealand immigration policy changes

The changes to immigration family policies will help New Zealand attract and retain skilled migrants, and ensure that family migrants can settle well and are self-sufficient.

New Zealand faces growing global competition for migrants with the skills we need to grow our economy. Being able to sponsor your parents to live here is important to help attract and retain skilled migrants. As a result of these policy changes, many skilled migrants who wish to sponsor their parents for residence here will experience a swifter decision and less bureaucratic criteria. This will give New Zealand a competitive advantage in the international hunt for these highly skilled workers.

These immigration policy changes will also help ensure we are attracting family migrants who are self-sufficient and can settle well. The door will still be open to parents of other migrants but their applications will not be prioritised.

Key changes are as follows:

Parent Category

Parents will be prioritised:

who either have a guaranteed minimum income, or bring funds with them, so are better able to support themselves, or
whose adult children earn enough to support their parents without any need for taxpayer assistance.
Parents with poor English will continue to be eligible but they must purchase English language tuition to help them to settle well in New Zealand.


Sponsored parents help maintain family and cultural linkages but most (87 percent of parents surveyed after 18 months residence in New Zealand) are not in paid employment.

Around 3,500 – 4,000 parents are approved for residence each year.

Sibling and Adult Children Category

The Sibling and Adult Child Category will close because it does not generate sufficient economic benefit for New Zealand.


Only 66 percent of sponsored siblings and adult children interviewed 18 months after gaining residence had jobs, despite a job offer for ongoing and sustainable work being required to gain residence.

Residence requirements for young adult children

The Dependent Child Category and associated residence requirements will be amended.

The criteria are being relaxed so that young adult children aged 18 to 20 may be eligible for residence – even if they have a job in their home country – provided they are single, have no children and are included, or were declared, in their parents’ residence application.

Previously adult children in that age group were not able to be included in their parents’ residence application if they had a job in their home country.

Those aged 21 to 24 will still only be eligible to migrate if they can show that they are financially dependent.

Changes to the sponsorship period

Sponsorship includes a responsibility on the New Zealand sponsor to ensure the sponsored person has accommodation and maintenance for a specified time while in New Zealand. Sponsors are also responsible for the costs of outward travel (if repatriation or deportation is required).

The sponsorship term for parents will initially remain at five years, but the Government has decided it will amend the Immigration Act 2009 at some time in the future to extend the sponsorship term for family-sponsored migrants to 10 years.

The timing for this amendment has not been decided.

Find out more call a lawyer at Auckland law firm Quay Law – Contact an Auckland Lawyer