Government's re-introduced parent visa category panned as 'for the rich'

David Seymour is criticising the Government's re-introduced parent category visa because he says it will only benefit the rich and offers little protection for taxpayers. 

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announced on Monday the visa category would be re-introduced after the previous National-led Government suspended it three years ago. 

The aim of the visa category is to support skilled migrants who "help fill New Zealand's skills gaps" by providing a pathway for their parents to join them.

But the Government's re-set version of the visa - available in February 2020 - now requires couples to have a higher income threshold than a single person in order to bring their parents to New Zealand. 

A single person will be able to bring one parent if their income is more than $106,080, but a couple would be required to have a combined income of more than $159,120. 

To bring two parents, the figures are $159,120 and $212,160 respectively.

Seymour, ACT leader, said it doesn't make sense that couples would have a higher threshold because couples are "likely more able to support parents in the long term than a single person". 

He said the Government is introducing a parent category visa "for the rich" that offers "little protection for the taxpayer".

The ability for a parent to gain residence through having a guaranteed lifetime income or settlement funds will also be removed under the new settings.

Seymour said that could increase the risk of migrants' parents becoming a "burden on the taxpayer". 

"The new policy simply requires two good years of income and your parents can come for the rest of their life." 

He said the policy should "allow skilled workers to come to New Zealand without having to leave their parents behind, while protecting the taxpayer from getting taken for a ride".

Lees-Galloway said the new visa category will not be available until next year because it will allow those who have submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) under the old settings to consider what they want to do. 

He said applications with EOIs currently in the queue will be able to be updated to reflect the new requirements and hold their current place in the queue.

Those who do not meet the new eligibility criteria will be able to withdraw their EOI and apply for a full refund.

The re-introduced visa follows the Immigration Minister's announcement last week that another former National-led Government policy on refugees described as "racist" would be dumped. 

Refugees from Africa and the Middle East will no longer need to have a family connection to New Zealand before they can be considered for settlement. 

The Government will also prioritise refugee resettlements from Africa and the Middle East where "needs are the highest", and will increase their allocation from 14 percent to 15 percent. 

Last month the Government also reinstated the ability for lower-paid foreign workers to bring their families to New Zealand after it was restricted in 2017. 


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