A new hope for a family reunion (but only for some)

By Vanessa Sharratt -Licensed Immigration Adviser and Director

The Minister of Immigration has finally released detailed instructions for the new Parent Category policy.  The first EOI selection will be in May 2020, with a maximum of 1000 resident visas granted per year ending 30 June. Given the large number of EOI’s currently in the pool, applications could potentially take several years to be drawn from the pool.  However, as the minimum income requirements are considerably higher, it is likely that many existing EOIs will no longer qualify and will either be withdrawn or rejected.

Key Changes:

  • A reduced annual limit of 1,000 residence visas granted per year
  • Much higher income requirements for sponsors – at least double the median wage to support a single parent
  • Applications only rely on the taxable annual income of adult child (and partner if applicable)
  • Parents can no longer sponsor themselves through their own income.
  • Sponsorship period is now 10 years – aligned with the NZ Superannuation residency eligibility criteria
  • When the adult child and their partner are sponsors, both are included in the sponsorship undertaking, and need to meet the same criteria, i.e. be a New Zealand citizen or have held residence for 3 years AND agree to act as an additional sponsor
  • Expression of Interest (EOI) and single tier system only

What you need to do:

  • If you already have an EOI submitted in the Old Parent Category Pool you need to decide whether you can meet the new income thresholds
  • You can choose to withdraw your EOI (and obtain a refund) or update your details with the INZ 1249 Parent Category Expression of Interest Update form to keep your place in the new Parent Category queue.
  • There is currently no way of knowing how long an EOI will be in the pool prior to being selected – this will depend on the number of EOIs currently in the queue and the number being withdrawn as well as the number of new EOIs added to the queue.
  • Sponsor income thresholds will increase annually in-line with New Zealand’s rising median wage. If you believe you may meet the income threshold requirements in the next 2-3 years you may want to consider submitting the EOI now as your invitation to apply may not be issued for a long time. There is no requirement to show you meet the minimum income threshold in the EOI

Contact us to check whether you may meet the requirements of the new Parent Category.

Details of the requirements

Most of the general requirements for the Parent category regarding health, character and English language ability are unchanged.

The key changes in the new Parent Category minimum income requirements are as follows:

  • An adult child (and partner) must show that they meet the minimum income thresholds for at least 2 of the 3 years immediately prior to the issue of the Invitation to Apply.
  • The evidence of income must be demonstrated through annual Inland Revenue tax statements of the adult child (and partner).
  • Any income from another legal entity such as a company or trust cannot be included unless it has been paid to the sponsoring adult child (and partner) – this income must appear on the IRD statements to qualify.

Minimum income thresholds

The minimum income thresholds will change from year to year.  The current indicative thresholds are as follows:

Minimum income thresholds for one sponsor (adult child only):

Effective date 1 parent 2 parents 3 parents 4 parents
24/02/2020 onwards


$159,120 $212,160 $265,200
26/11/2018 – 23/02/2020


$156,000 $208,000


Before 26/11/2018

$101,523 $151,569 $202,092



Minimum income thresholds for two sponsors (adult child and partner):

Effective date 1 parent 2 parents 3 parents 4 parents
24/02/2020 onwards


$212,160 $265,200


26/11/2018 – 23/02/2020


$208,000 $260,000


Before 26/11/2018


$202,092 $252,615