In October 2016 the government implemented some changes to New Zealand’s immigration residence programme. This had the effect of reducing the annual number of places for family member migrants to obtain residence from 5500 to 2000. Perhaps the greatest impact of the policy change has been in relation to the Parent Residence Category (“PRC”). Further implications of the government’s policy change are discussed in our Immigrating to New Zealand – The Skilled Migrant Work Category article.

Under the PRC, people can apply to move to New Zealand if they have an adult child here who is a citizen or resident. Unsurprisingly, this category is very popular given our New Zealand’s high intake of young migrants to date – it follows that young people who have settled as residents wish to be reunited with their parents. To submit a tier one Expression of Interest under this category (which ordinarily would be chosen first from the pool, ahead of those considered tier two), an applicant needs to have:

  • A sponsor (typically their child) who has an annual gross income of at least $65,000; or
  • A sponsor who together with their partner has a combined annual gross income of $90,000; or
  • A guaranteed life gross income; or
  • At least $500,000 of settlement funds to bring to New Zealand.

Following this year’s policy change, Immigration New Zealand announced that the PRC has been closed for 2016 and no Expressions of Interest will be selected for consideration from the pool until further notice. Instead they will be placed into a queue and assessed as places become available. At present, Immigration New Zealand estimates that the queue of people who have lodged Expressions of Interest will make up the quota of applications considered for at least 2017 and part of 2018.

However, this does not mean that a person who is considering immigrating under this category cannot submit an Expression of Interest, or that there aren’t other options for them. As it stands, a person could submit their application and join the queue rather than to wait for the category to open up again.

The Parent Retirement Category

It is important to know that another similar residence category remains open – the Parent Retirement Category. This category requires applicants to have a significant amount of money, and targets more affluent individuals and couples. Similar to the PRC, it allows overseas parents to move to New Zealand to join their adult citizen or resident child. To do so they will need:

  • An annual income of at least NZD$60,000 at the time of application (this can be the combined income of an applicant and their partner); and
  • NZD$1 million to invest in New Zealand for 4 years; and
  • NZD$500,000 to use as settlement funds.

In addition, an applicant must have good health and be of good character.

If successful, the applicants will be permitted to reside in New Zealand (allowing them to work or study) during their investment period. After their 4 year investment term has been completed, they will obtain residence.

Options for Immigration under these Categories

So what are an applicant’s options for immigrating to New Zealand under these categories?

  • Take a risk on the Parent Residence Category – applicants are still able to submit an Expression of Interest under the Parent Residence Category, which at this stage will join the queue to be considered as annual spaces become available.
  • Apply under the Parent Retirement Category – as stated above, this course of action requires applicants to be financially well-off.
  • Wait – Immigration New Zealand has indicated that the residence programme policy changes are not permanent and are intended to apply for the next two years. However, there is no guarantee as to what the future might hold for the residency programme and what further changes will be made in the future if any.

It is advisable to get specific legal advice about your particular circumstances when determining what your best course of action is. 

If you are thinking about immigrating to New Zealand or would like further information or advice on New Zealand’s immigration laws, please contact Jamie Nunns on or (04) 495 8912.

Further information can be found here: