Two-tier system could prove beneficial

The recent changes to the Family category announced by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has created a lot of waves.

A large number of people have bombarded me with the question, “How can the Government make changes to the Parent and Sibling category without any notice period?

Many immigrant families who had not initiated the process earlier are now desperate.

People suddenly discovered that they will not be able to lodge Parent Category applications from the time it was closed (May 16, 2012) to the time when the new policy would come into effect (July 2012). Applications with all necessary documents accepted by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) on or before May 15, 2012 will be processed under the previous policies.

New options

However, the new policy announced now gives options to parents and hence not everyone would consider the changes bad.

The current Government has taken a U turn but the good news is that the ‘Centre of Gravity’ will no longer be applicable.

Let me make it clear so that you have a better picture of the requirements that would be enforced from July 2012.

According to the new procedure, if you want your parents to live here permanently, they must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI), after which INZ would invite them to apply for residence.

All applications will be divided into two categories, namely Tier 1 and Tier 2.

Financial capability

Prospective applicants must declare in their EOI that they are in good health, meet character requirements and are able to financially sustain themselves.

As per Tier 1, your parents should have a residential property or other assets valued at $500,000, or have a guaranteed life-time minimum income of $27,203 per annum for a single person or $39,890 for a couple through a pension scheme or through investment. If not, as a sponsor, your annual minimum earning should be $65,000 or a joint income of $90,000 with your spouse.

Applications under this category will be faster and easier.

With the removal of the ‘Centre of Gravity’ clause, it is immaterial if you have one or more siblings living in another country, so long as the financial requirements are met according to the new policy.

Applications made under Tier 2 may take longer to process, perhaps between three to five years initially, until INZ clears its existing backlogs.

Tier 2 applicants keen on sponsoring their adult child should have a minimum annual income of $33,675 but should not have any other adult or dependent child living in New Zealand, their home country.

The other requirement is that the parents in either category must meet English Language requirements (IELTS Level 4.0) or pre-purchase English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) tuition at a cost of $1735.

As per the INZ’s New Zealand Residence Programme, no more than 4000 people will be granted residence through the Parent Category each year.

Although the Adult Child/Sibling category has been closed for now, prospective migrants can test their eligibility under the existing Skilled Migrant Category, especially if they have a current offer of employment in New Zealand.

Saif Shaikh is a Licensed Immigration Adviser and Director of Immigration Advice NZ Ltd based in Auckland.

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