Parent Residence Visa - why is it still closed

Azaria Bialik made this Official Information request to Michael Wood

The request was partially successful.

From: Azaria Bialik

Dear Michael Wood,

In October 2016 the National-led government put the Parents Residency Scheme on freeze. Six long years those applicants are waiting for news.
From the way this visa is being managed, it may portray as if the government and INZ are waiting for a natural resolution of the problem. When I made an inquiry through OIA to the ministry of immigration in August 2020, I learned that they know for certain of 38 applicants that passed away while waiting for their application to be assessed. The actual numbers are likely to be much higher now, in 2022, and it is most likely that those applicants could meet the criteria and spend their twilight years close to their children and grandchildren.

In October 2019 MBIE produced a paper with the recommendation to resume the selection of EOI under the Parent Residence scheme with revised criteria.
A link to the paper:

On 7/10/2019 the Minister of Immigration announced that the Parent Residence Category will open on 24th February 2020 with new eligibility criteria put in place. The new criteria present a high-income threshold for the sponsoring child, but since many migrants are highly skilled in areas of shortage in NZ, many could meet this high bar. The selection of EOI from the pool was planned to start in May 2020.
For applicants that could not meet the new criteria, INZ offered to withdraw their application and receive a refund of their application fees.

The purpose of placing high income bar was explained through the taxation system. Migrants that are being paid double the median NZ wage are contributing enough through income tax to sponser state expenditure for a single parent. Such approach is considered very conservative but it ensures minimal financial burdon on the country.
Since many migrants could not present sufficient income, they accepted the offer of refunding the application fees and exited the applications queue.

On 19/03/2020 the NZ borders were closed to tourists and migrants due to Covid-19, and as a result, the selection of EOI applications for the Parent Residence Category as well as Skilled Migrant Category was suspended until the reopening of the borders.
When I asked the MBIE through OIA for an explanation why visa applications cannot be assessed when borders are closed I got the following response:
"On 1 April 2020, the Minister of Immigration made the decision to defer certain scheme opening dates and Expression of Interest (EOI) selections. This included deferring the Parent Category EOI selection scheduled for late May, until further notice. The decision was made due to the difficulty in obtaining the required documents and evidence to submit a residence application if the EOI is selected and Immigration New Zealand's (INZ) limited visa processing capacity during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many potential applicants are also based offshore and would be subject to New Zealand's current border restrictions."

On 03/02/2022 the Prime Minister announced that the borders of NZ will be opening soon, and the assessment of the Skilled Migrant Category visas will resume. At that time I was certain that the Parent Residence Category will resume as well after 6 years of anticipation. To validate this assumption I posed an inquiry using the OIA and was informed that "The Government’s reconnecting plan is not related to the Parent Category.
While step five of the plan means most visa categories will reopen in
October, paused categories, such as the parent category, are not included in this."

Further inquiry regarding the time for reopening the category was replied by the minister Faafoi stating "A planned review of the category, likely to take place in late 2022, will look at barriers to access, including the income threshold. It is intended that selection for the Parent Resident Visa category will resume once this review has been undertaken."

Considering the clear recommendation by MBIE to reopen the category, the attempt to resume selection of EOI from the pool prior to covid, and the clear and safe financial criteria, I feel that the obvious question requires your answer.
Why the Parent Residence Visa is still closed and the government is placing another deferral and further delays?

Yours faithfully,
Azaria Bialik

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From: Hon Michael Wood
Michael Wood

Kia ora,

On behalf of Hon Michael Wood, thank you for your email.

While the Minister considers all correspondence to be important and all
messages are carefully read and considered, it is not possible to provide
a personal response to every email received.

Where the Minister has portfolio responsibility for the issues that you
have raised, your correspondence will be considered and responded to where
appropriate.  If your email falls outside of these responsibilities, it
may transferred to another office for consideration.

Thank you for taking the time to write.

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Office of Hon Michael Wood

Minister of Transport | Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety |
Deputy Leader of the House


Private Bag 18041 |Parliament Buildings | Wellington 6160 | New Zealand

Office phone: +64 4 817 8847 | Email: [4][email address]



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From: M Wood (MIN)

Kia ora Azaria Bialik,

On behalf of Minister Wood, the Minister of Immigration, thank you for your below email.

Reopening the Parent Category Resident Visa (Parent Category) is a priority for this government.

The reopening of Parent Category expression of interest (EOI) selections, and government policy for EOIs that currently meet the income criteria, are being considered but no decisions have been made.

With regard to the ongoing review, Parent Category EOI selections have been paused since 2016, pending a review of the visa settings, which was completed in 2018-19. Following this review, in 2019 Cabinet agreed to a number of changes to the Parent Category, most notably decreasing the annual cap on individual visas granted from 2,000 per year to 1,000, increasing the income threshold for sponsors to a benchmark of two times the median wage, and agreeing to resume EOI selections in 2020. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on visa processing, Immigration New Zealand was unable to resume EOI selections for the Parent Category at that time and they remain paused.

In 2020, the Labour Party made a manifesto commitment to reduce barriers to access the Parent Category. The manifesto commitment, along with the length of time since the last comprehensive review of the Parent Category, has meant a review of the Parent Category is necessary to assess whether the current settings are fit for purpose and achieve the objective of the visa category. The review will look at barriers to access the Parent Category and options to resume selections of EOIs. The Minister is aware of the long period of time that has passed since this visa category was closed and will be working to expedite the review and decisions as quickly as reasonably possible.

Kind regards,

Office of Hon Michael Wood
Minister of Immigration, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Minister of Transport
Private Bag 18041 | Parliament Buildings | Wellington 6160 | New Zealand

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