Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has discounted media reports which said that thousands of migrants parents were stranded in New Zealand following the departure of their children overseas.
New Zealand Herald and Otago Daily Times had reported in their May 31 issue that thousands of elderly migrant parents, sponsored by their children under the Family Unification Scheme were obliged to look after themselves.
“Nearly 3000 people who brought their parents into New Zealand under the parent category are no longer in the country,” the Herald said, quoting figures obtained under the Official Information Act.
Mr Woodhouse said the claim that “upwards of 5000 parents” have been abandoned by their sponsors who are absent” was incorrect.
“The claim is based on a false assumption that just because nearly 3000 New Zealand resident sponsors are currently overseas, that thousands of their parents have been left behind in New Zealand. In fact, nearly two-thirds of parents (more than 3200) whose child sponsor has left New Zealand have gone with them,” he said.
Quoting Immigration New Zealand (INZ) figures, he said that out of more than 5000 parents of absent sponsors, less than 1850 have remained in New Zealand.
Parents could have many good reasons for remaining in New Zealand, including holding down a job and having other children and family in the country. Some of them may have even found a New Zealand partner, he added.
“The sponsor could also only be out of New Zealand temporarily and planning to return to New Zealand shortly. The purpose of the parent category visa is to incentivise more skilled migrants and business investors to New Zealand, and we still need more of both,” Mr Woodhouse said.
Staging that migrants played a crucial part in New Zealand’s current and future economic success, he said it was important to ensure that anecdotes and figures used without context do not diminish this truth in the public’s eye.
INZ re-launched the parent category in July 2012 as a two-tier scheme, in which general criteria for health, character and English language must be met. Applicants who can prove that they could bring $500,000 of settlement funds into New Zealand, or have a sponsor, who earned at least $65,000, will be placed in the top tier.