Immigration New Zealand Refocuses on the Family articles


8 Apr 2024

Related Expertise

A review of the current visa settings for families is long overdue.  But following a recent update from the Minister of Immigration, some changes may well be seen (soon!) for long-term temporary visas for parents and grandparents. This will come as welcomed news for many.

Both National and ACT parties put forward at the last election, a Parent Visa Boost visitor visa valid for five years with renewal possible for a further five years to offer a flexible option for parents and grandparents to visit their family in New Zealand.  This was on condition that the families cover any health care costs. 

The Minister of Immigration in September 2023:

“New Zealand needs to attract and retain skilled people, but other countries have more pro-parent visa options, making them more attractive options.

“Allowing parents and grandparents to live with their migrant children can help skilled people integrate better into New Zealand, helping with childcare, offering stability and emotional support…”

On 3rd April 2024, the Immigration Minister has assured that reforms to the temporary parent and grandparent visas are being looked at this term, exactly when that will be and what that will entail is unknown:

“We’re working through that at the moment,” Stanford said.

“There are some immediate things that have taken our attention like AEWV (Accredited Employer Work Visa) and migrant exploitation that we’ve been working very hard on and will be announcing. Everything else at the moment we’re putting into a pipeline of work about when it will happen and what sort of changes are required.”

The Minister has also signalled changes are afoot for Partnership-based visas (also welcomed news!) namely, Culturally Arranged Marriage Visitor Visas but given the priority is on the review of the AEWV policy, these proposed changes will be placed in the “pipeline” for now.

Current Status

Parents and grandparents can currently stay for up to 18 months in a three-year period on a multiple-entry visitor visa, subject to meeting health, character, sponsorship requirements. 

The residence Parent Category reopened in October 2023, after being on hold for over 6 years, but with changes to the sponsorship requirements.

Parents and grandparents can apply to live in New Zealand permanently if they have an adult child who is a New Zealand citizen or resident.  They must also earn enough money and agree to act as a sponsor.

Applicants must still meet normal health and character requirements. Health requirements can be quite relevant for this group.  There are certain conditions which are deemed to be an unacceptable burden on New Zealand health services regardless of insurance or willingness of the sponsor to cover medical costs.

If you think this could be an issue, we can advise before you put in the Expression of Interest.

Minimum Requirements

To be eligible

  • The parent must have an adult child who is a New Zealand resident or citizen and no dependent children.
  • Sponsors must meet the minimum time in New Zealand rule
  • The new sponsor income requirement of 1.5 median wage for one parent and 2x median wage for two parents.  Medium wage for immigration purposes is currently $31.61 per hour. This means to sponsor two parents, a combined sponsor income of $164,732 is needed.
  • Two adult children, not just an adult child and their partner, can now jointly sponsor a parent.
  • For those who are selected there are lengthy sponsor obligations (currently 10-years)

The Parent Category comes with substantial sponsor obligations. Sponsors are liable for 10 years to ensure that their sponsored parents or grandparents have accommodation and financial support and do not access any government benefits. There are low levels of knowledge that, for example accessing the Accommodation Supplement, which is in fact a welfare benefit, is strictly forbidden for a decade after residence is granted.

Contact our office for advice on sponsor obligations.

In 2022, the annual quota of residence visas for parents and grandparents was 2,500 of which 2,000 were dedicated to the many thousands of Parent Category Expressions of Interest (EOI) that had been lodged since the selections were put on hold in October 2016. 

EOI’s lodged from 12th October 2022 are now to go into a ballot, drawn every 3-months starting in August 2023.  EOIs remain in the ballot for 2 years before they expire. 

About 13,044 people in 8,564 EOIs have been submitted to a ballot of parent resident visas and so far, 308 people (200 EOIs) have been selected.[1]

Parent Investment Categories

Parents and grandparents (over 66-years-old) may be eligible for a Temporary Retirement visa if they have:

  • NZD$750,000 of funds to be invested for two years
  • NZD$500,000 of funds to be available for support
  • NZD$60,000 per year as independent income

Medical insurance is required but this can exclude pre-existing conditions. A two-year visitor visa is then available.  Processing has been around 6-weeks.

A further option is a Parent Retirement resident visa.  This is essentially the same as the temporary visa but requires:

  • NZD$1 million dollars to be invested for four years
  • NZD$500,000 settlement funds
  • NZD$60,000 per as has independent income

This category is subject to serious delays. Allocation was 18-months or more although this is improved. The total processing time is somewhere between 39 and 50 months.

Gifts from adult children or others can be included in both categories provided there is formal documentation and proof of origin of gifted funds.

In both categories, a strict approach is taken to the investment funds.  Immigration New Zealand may require tax returns going back as far as 10 years and bank statements to show chain of custody. In some jurisdictions, this can be a real challenge.

We are well-positioned to provide advice and advocacy. Contact us for assistance.

None of the Above?

We are also able to assist parents who would otherwise be isolated or going back to impossible situations in their home countries to obtain residence either as an exception to instructions or on humanitarian grounds through the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

A small number of parents have remained in New Zealand since the beginning of Covid-19 border restrictions and may in some cases no longer have a visa. A very high standard of proof is needed in these cases and the main focus is on the interests of New Zealand family members.  Our team has extensive experience in assessing and assisting in humanitarian cases alongside our other work. 

Contact our office for advice on the best option for your family.


About the Author

Diana Bell

Senior Associate

Diana is a specialist immigration lawyer with over 14 years experience.  As a daughter of Samoan migrants she has a unique understanding and empathy for those...



Get insights sent direct to your email.