Parent Category Visa will see the light of its day says Minister

Ethnic Communities Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan speaks to Indians living in Auckland
 Indian Community reaches 100% Vaccination Rate of first dose; about 80% of the second

Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Moderator Rashna Tata at the Indians in Auckland Group Discussion on October 22, 2021 (Screen Grab)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, October 23, 2021

The Labour government is strongly committed to reviving the Parent Category Visa Category and extended families of New Zealanders into the country, a Minister of the Crown has said.

Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan said that closure of borders and the need for managed isolation facilities, perpetrated by the Covid-19 pandemic, have hindered the government’s plan of re-opening the Parent Visa Category.

“Reuniting parents with their children in New Zealand is a part of the Election Manifesto of the Labour Party and we are committed to fulfilling our promise,” she said.

Robust Discussion

Ms Radhakrishnan was speaking at an Open Discussion of the ‘Indians Living in Auckland’ Facebook Group, the largest Indian group in Auckland with about 48,000 members.

The Discussion, held online on Friday, October 22, 2021, was supported by Indian Newslink. Rotarian Rashna Tata, a former President of the Zarathushtrian Association of New Zealand was the Moderator with technical support by Nitin Suri (an IT professional) and Daryll Garcia (Zindia and Indian Newslink).   

Among the others who attend the discussion were Immigration New Zealand officials Andrew Craig (National Manager, Policy) and Stephanie Greathead (National Manager, Visa and Border Control), many community leaders, among who were Gandhi Nivas Chairperson Ranjna Patel, Selva Ramasami (former President of Wellington Mutamizh Sangam) and Dr Reginald Samuel, President, Mana Andhra Telugu Association New Zealand.  

As well as explaining the government policies and progress of programmes, Ms Radhakrishnan answered questions on various issues, a majority of them on immigration.

(Image makeup: Indian Newslink)

Labour Manifesto: A background

The Labour Party Election Manifesto (October 2020) had said, “We will reduce barriers to access the Parent Category Visa, including reconsidering the current provisions once the international flow of people across the border settles and reducing the income thresholds.”

Speaking to reporters soon after new Cabinet posts were announced on November 2, 2020 (after the general election held on October 17, 2020), Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said that the government will open up its settings to get more people into the country while maintaining robust controls at the border.

“Labour will review immigration criteria to enable a broader range of workers to enter New Zealand and establish a new Investment Attraction Strategy to encourage targeted and high-value international investment into New Zealand. We will reduce barriers to access the Parent Category Visa, including reconsidering the current provisions once the international flow of people across the border settles, and reducing the income thresholds,” he said.

Mr Faafoi had also promised that the government will ensure that Partnership Visa rules were up-to-date, culturally appropriate and represent international best practice.

“Immigration settings would also be updated and we will explore implementing modern slavery legislation to eliminate exploitation in supply chains,” he had said.

Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan with Rashna Tata and Mana Andhra Telugu Association NZ President Dr Reginald Samuel at the Indians Living in Auckland Group Discussion on October 22, 2021 (Screen Grab)

Residency for International Students

Question: Will the government consider granting Residency to international students under the One-off Pathway to Residency Programme?

Ms Radhakrishnan said that the One-off does not include international students.

“This is a significant policy announced to provide security to businesses to retain and hire talent and to migrant workers to plan their future. I understand the value that international students bring to New Zealand (I was one of them years ago) and they can still apply for Residency according to the existing Immigration Law and Policy,” she said.

For extensive information on the new Residency Programme , please click here, here and here.

Migrant Workers Association has been supporting migrant workers migrants needing legal status (Association Photo)

Migrant Workers offshore

In response to another question, Ms Radhakrishnan said that she has immense sympathy for migrant workers and families stranded overseas due to borders closure.

“Many groups and people have represented to me stating that they have stakes in New Zealand, this is their home and therefore they are very anxious to return. Border closure is our primary line of defence against Covid-19 and we have to protect the wellbeing of resident New Zealanders. It is also very important that our MIQ facilities have the capacity to handle the demand. I can assure everyone that I constantly take up this matter with the Immigration Minister and officials and I hopeful that migrant workers will be able to return,” she said.

She said that the government is currently looking at the Self-Isolation Pilot Project and future rollout for more people will depend on its success.

Vaccination, the best tool

“There can be different options but all of them must meet our public health standards. However, Vaccination is the best tool, and in fact that is the only option we have. As the Prime Minister has announced, Auckland can safely move out of the current level if all the District Health Boards achieve a double Vaccination Rate (both doses) of 90%. The new Protection Network should work,” she said.

Ms Radhakrishnan said that the Indian Community has now reached Vaccination Rate of 100% of the first dose and was recording between 72% to 80% of the second dose.

Additional Reading: Please click here and here.

About Ethnic Communities Ministry

Describing the formation of the Ministry of Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities (on July 5, 2021) as ‘very significant,’ Ms Radhakrishnan said that a separate Ministry to serve our growing ethnic communities has been advocated for many years.

“The level of support that we have received from our people is incredibly pleasing. For the first time in New Zealand, we have a Chief Executive (the incumbent is Mervin Singam) of the Ethnic Communities Ministry sitting along with Chief Executives of other Ministries discussing policies and programmes. We are engaging widely with people across our communities to understand their concerns, needs and how they would like us to serve them,” she said.

Ms Radhakrishnan said that her Ministry is consulting with all the stakeholders to achieve equity and ensure broader representation of ethnic people on government boards and those of government agencies and public sector bodies.

Support to Community Organisations

Answering a question on whether the government will provide support to community organisations that are financially strapped because of loss in revenue from ticket sales and sponsorships since all activities had to be cancelled, she said that the Ministry of Social Development has set parameters for support.

Editor’s Note: The Ministry of Culture and Heritage also has schemes to support community organisations affected by Covid-19. Details of funding criteria and further information can be obtained at www.mch.govt.nz

The Indians Living in Auckland Group Discussion in progress on October 22, 2021 (Screen Grab)

Review of Charities

As Community and Voluntary Sector Minister, Ms Radhakrishnan is keen to modernise the Charites Act 2005 and make it more response to the needs of communities.

“I would like to streamline the regulatory system, ensure that the government is performing its role in the process, ensure that charities are responding properly to the needs of the people and examine if the existing laws facilitate or hinder charitable activities. There is also a need to guarantee the accountability of charities,” she said.

She said that as Minister for Youth, there is an Action Plan to promote Child and Youth Wellbeing and as Associate Minister for Social Development, she has the responsibility for follow-up action required after the Christchurch massacre of March 15, 2019.

“New Zealand faces a high level of social challenges and the Labour government is keen to address all of them effectively. Our discussion documents are inclusive and we look forward to people’s participation for the best outcome,” she said.

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