We get this question a lot. In particular, we field requests from New Zealand Residents or Citizens about how to bring their relatives to NZ from the home country.

We often have to say that there is nothing to be done. There is simply not a solution for everybody. However, the following is a brief overview of options to consider.

During the COVID-19 border closure, most of these cannot be pursued because the processing of nearly all offshore visa applications has been suspended. However, hopefully that situation will not last forever. Read on with the mind-set that you are looking for something that can be done in 1 or 2 years time – not next week, or next month.


The Parent Residence scheme was re-opened in early 2020. This relies on the NZ son or daughter showing that they earn enough to sponsor one or both parents. The salary thresholds start with twice the median wage (currently about $112,000 a year, based on $27 per hour) and go up from there. With the border closures, this policy was put on hold indefinitely.

We don’t know when Immigration will start selecting from the Expressions of Interest that have already been put in. You can still file an EOI to get into the queue, but our guess is that, even if the scheme opened up again tomorrow, you could be waiting 3 – 5 years for a final outcome.

There are other choices, though:

  • Parent Retirement Residence – if your parents are moderately wealthy. They must invest NZ$1 million for 4 years, show that they have another $500,000 to live on, and have an income (such as a pension or rents), of $60,000 per year;
  • Temporary Retirement Visitor Visa – if your parents are 66 years or over. Similar criteria to the Retirement Residence, except that they only have to invest $750,000 for 2 years. But they only get a 2-year Visitor Visa, so the value of this policy is not great in return;
  • Multiple-Entry Visitor Visa – no age or investment requirements. This allows entry for a maximum stay of 6 months at a time, up to a maximum time in NZ of 18 months, over a 3-year period.

Adult Brothers and Sisters

There has been no specific Sibling visa policy since 2012. You cannot simply sponsor a brother or sister because of that family relationship. This means that they must look at one of the following:

  • Work Visa – based on a good job offer. What is a good job offer? It must be for work where your brother or sister has college-level qualifications and several years of work experience (usually, at least 3). It must also be for a job where the employer can prove that they cannot find NZ workers. It is unwise for a NZ family member to offer their relative a job. Immigration will immediately be suspicious that it is not genuine.
  • Student Visa – for a University-level course, preferably a Bachelor’s degree. This is an expensive route. Not only are most international student fees very high, but the applicant must prove that they have at least NZ$15,000 per year of study, of their own money, to support themselves. The NZ family can be sponsors, but they must show that they earn enough to do so, and they may also need to prove that they can provide accommodation. The advantage of getting a Student Visa like this is that, upon successful graduation, one can get a 3-year open Work Visa to look for a job related to what they studied. This could then lead to Residence.

This is an over-simplified description of what is available, but it may give some food for thought.

Dependent Children

We are talking here about the child of a Citizen or Resident of New Zealand. Generally speaking, a child is dependent if they are:

  • 24 years old or younger
  • single
  • have not had any children of their own
  • not earning enough income to support themselves – that is, they must rely upon parents or other caregivers for their food, accommodation and so on.

There are more specific rules depending upon their particular age.

The child may be biologically related, or adopted. Non-official or “customary” adoptions can sometimes be recognised, but if your home country has a well-developed administrative or legal system, then you would be expected to have the necessary Adoption Order issued by the government or by the courts.

Special Direction

People talk about these a lot. A Special Direction is a request to the Minister of Immigration to help where there doesn’t seem to be any other way. The trouble with these is that a great deal of work and cost can go into putting such a petition together, only to get a simple “Yes” or (more commonly) “No” answer, without any reasons why.

There is no point in pushing the Special Direction button unless you have tried everything else first. Otherwise, the case will simply be sent back with a “try your luck elsewhere” message.

We are usually reluctant to suggest a Special Direction because the outcome can be so uncertain. Sometimes, though, we suggest that a person asks for a certain policy requirement to be waived (set aside), such as an age restriction or an adverse health condition. You’re not asking for a visa, just for the chance to try for one. A blog from earlier this year touches on examples where Special Directions can be used to help people already in NZ, and sometimes they can work for people offshore, too.

How We Can Help

Through an initial consultation, we can usually work out whether there is any realistic avenue for you to consider. We can do this in-person, or by Skype or Zoom. In the last 18 months many of our meetings have bee online, for obvious reasons.

We can also normally quote a fixed fee to take on your case. Be warned: We aren’t the cheapest, but we like to think that we are good at what we do. And we will tell you honestly whether you should even try the strategy which we have identified.

Contact us directly to set up a meeting.