National’s Parent Category visa revival gets cautious nod

Venkat Raman
Auckland, September 23, 2023

The proposal of the National Party to open up the Parent and Grandparent Visa Category with multiple entry options has been received with enthusiasm by the wider communities but legal and financial experts have urged caution against misuse and wait to see the devil in the details.

National Party Immigration Spokesperson Erica Stanford announced this morning (September 23) that if elected to form the next government, her Party will make it easier for parents and grandparents of migrants to visit their family in New Zealand.

In effect, the proposal is a revival of the scheme suspended by National when it was in government in 2017. The Labour government reintroduced the Parent and Grandparent category earlier this year and it is stated to be working well.

Critics have said that it is old wine in a new bottle.

The Proposal

In our view, the word ‘migrants’ would suggest those on temporary visas but interestingly the reference is otherwise.

“Currently, parents and grandparents of migrants who are New Zealand permanent residents or citizens have limited options in visiting their children in New Zealand. National will introduce a multiple-entry Parent Visa Boost 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,” she said.

According to Ms Stanford,  the multiple-entry Parent Visa Boost will offer an innovative solution for parents and grandparents of migrants to come to New Zealand without conferring the full rights of residence or citizenship.

Ms Stanford said that people arriving under this category will not be eligible for New Zealand Super or other entitlements but did not provide details.

“Individuals would be required to carry health insurance for the duration of their stay and would need to pass standard Immigration New Zealand health and other requirements to receive their visa. 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,” she said.

Erica Stanford, National Party Immigration Spokesperson

Labour’s policy slammed

Ms Standford accused the Labour government of mismanaging immigration, causing hardship to migrants and their families.

“I have heard of numerous examples of skilled people who were working in New Zealand but decided to leave due to current settings. Under Labour, visa processing times have blown out, migrant exploitation has exploded and they took far too long getting nurses in the country when we desperately needed them,” she said.

Ms Standford promised that her National government would get the immigration setting right.

“We want to attract and retain skilled migrants, we need sensible solutions that make New Zealand more attractive without costing taxpayers,” she said.

So, what is new?

While the announcement has had a euphoric welcome in some sections of the South Asian communities, Wellington-based Kamil Lakshman, a senior Immigration Lawyer with an impressive track record asked, ‘What is new in this policy?’

“The proposed policy does not state that the Parent Visa will be for five years; it states ‘multiple-entry.’ People should not be misled by the narrative. The current policy provides for indefinite multiple entry broken into three-year periods as opposed to five years as proposed,” she said.

The current Immigration setting allows people in New Zealand to apply for a Parent Resident Visa with a maximum intake of 2500 every year. Grandparents will be able to apply for Permanent Residence.

Dr Pushpa Wood, Director of NZ Fin-Ed Centre of Massey University in Wellington is keen that the system should not be misused.

Potential misuse cited

She was also sceptical that the government would be able to deny Permanent Residency and Citizenship to those coming under the Parent and Grandparent Visas.

“The cost of providing residence and its accompanying benefits will be huge to the government unless it categorically denies people all benefits and services. They cannot really do so,” she said.

Rani Nalam, a Labour Party supporter and a champion of women’s empowerment, said that Ms Stanford’s proposal looks very attractive but hoped that people arranging for their parents and grandparents to come to New Zealand will be with appropriate health and life insurance policies.

“The government must ensure that our healthcare system, which is already under pressure is not further strained. People who breach the rules should be made answerable,’ she said.

Ms Nalam said that many residents bring their parents and grandparents to New Zealand mainly to tend to their growing children and later ignore them.

“I see such cases on a weekly basis. That is why I am keen to place the responsibility of looking after the parents and grandparents on those who bring them here,” she said.

Selva Ramasami, an Executive Committee Member of the Hindu Council of New Zealand based in Wellington said that many parents and grandparents are reluctant to speak against their children or grandchildren.

The cultural barriers

“The cultural barrier to speaking out against their own children and suffering in silence definitely needs a support system. Overall, a vast majority enjoy the benefits of parents and grandparents living with them,” he said.

Dr Wood proposed a free, anonymous phone line for parents and grandparents to convey mistreatment.

“I would like to place full responsibility on people who are sponsoring their parents and grandparents here. If the rules are breached, then it is they should be answerable. Let’s start showing some citizenship here,” she said.

Rashna Tata of the Indians Living in Auckland Facebook Group said that the terms for parents should be well-defined but should also be fair.

“As long as all adult children know all the details are in agreement and sign whatever is required by the government. Then why not have this in New Zealand? Indian parents think that they will spend their old age with their adult children. If other countries can accommodate this, why not New Zealand?”

Indian Newslink can expect an analysis from our experts in due course.

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