Immigration Focus - Securing residency for your parents: what you need to know

14th February 2023

On 12 October 2022 INZ announced that the long-awaited Parent Resident Visa would resume processing, meaning that more people will be able to bring their parents to join them in New Zealand. The first selection round for expression of interests submitted after this date is August 2023.

You’ve done it, your resident visa approval letter has finally arrived. After months (or years!) of waiting for your visa to process, after hours spent collating evidence of your skills and education, your relationship with your partner, your identity documents and police certificates, after undertaking medical exams and footing the bill for advisor and application fees, you can finally call yourself a New Zealand resident! 

Becoming a New Zealand resident is a huge achievement, but for many migrants it’s not the end goal, but rather the first step in the journey to building a better life for themselves and their (extended) family. The most frequent enquiry I receive once passing on the good news that my client has secured their residency, is “how can I bring my parents here too?”

“Family” is defined narrowly by Immigration New Zealand (“INZ”) and excludes people whom in many cultures would be considered a key part of the family unit. When an adult applies for residence in New Zealand, they can only include their partner (if eligible) and dependent children in the application.  They cannot include partners that they have not lived with for at least 12 months, children over 25 years old, parents, grandparents, siblings, aunties or uncles, nephews or nieces.

This narrow definition has been a source of continual angst for many New Zealand residents who have moved to New Zealand for a better life, but who have also had to leave their parents behind. As adults, we all worry about our parents getting older and frailer. This concern is amplified for New Zealand migrants, who live countries apart from parents who may live alone or who have health issues. And if they’re not worried about their parents’ wellbeing, they’re missing their support. Couples with young children struggle to balance the demands of childcare and a career without being able to rely on the assistance their parents could offer were they able to live nearby.

Reopening of the Parent Resident Visa category

For the last six years, the only pathway for parents to secure residency was through the “Parent Retirement Visa”. To be eligible for this visa, the parent applicant must invest $1 million into an “acceptable” New Zealand investment for 4 years, have access to an additional $500,000 of settlement funds, and receive an annual income of at least $60,000. Understandably, sourcing these investment funds has proven to be an insurmountable barrier for many potential applicants.

To the relief of many families, the “Parent Resident Visa” category reopened on 12 October 2022, after being frozen since 2016. This visa offers a pathway to residency for parents who cannot “invest” their way into New Zealand, but who instead will rely on the sponsorship of their adult (New Zealand resident or citizen) children.

Submitting your expression of interest

The first step in applying for Parent Resident Visa is submitting an expression of interest (“EOI”) into the pool of other EOIs awaiting selection. If your EOI is selected, you are invited to apply for the visa – at which stage you will need to provide the supporting documentation to demonstrate that you meet the requirements for the visa.

As some EOIs have been sitting in the pool for several years, INZ has announced that it will be selecting EOIs from two sets every three months. The first set will be EOIs submitted prior to 12 October 2022. These EOI’s are in a queue, and will be selected in the order of the date they were received. For example, if your EOI was submitted between 16 November 2015 and 18 January 2016, it is expected that it will be selected in February 2023. The second set of EOIs will be those submitted after 12 October 2022. These EOIs will enter a ballot and will be randomly selected, the first selection being in August 2023. INZ plans to select approximately 370 EOIs on each selection date, with the goal of issuing 2,500 visa approvals each year. Only 500 of these will come from the “ballot” EOIs, until INZ has worked its way through the backlog of EOI’s in the queue.

 As ballot EOIs expire after two years, it makes sense to maximise your time in the pool by submitting your EOI closer to the selection date, which is why I recommend to my clients to prepare their EOI now, ready for submission in late July.

For those who submitted their EOI prior to 12 October 2022, you should immediately review your EOI to ensure that the information is current and meets the new requirements.

Assessing your eligibility

As with most immigration applications, EOI submission will be the first step in a long process – INZ is advising a processing time of 46 months – and so applicants need to start this process ASAP and planning well ahead. Everyone who is considering submitting an EOI should have their eligibility assessed now, so that they can take steps (if necessary) to ensure that they meet the criteria for approval - ready for the first round of EOI selections in August 2023. If your parents don’t have $1.5 million handy, this may be their only opportunity to secure residency in New Zealand. 

If you would like to find out more about this visa, or book an appointment for an eligibility assessment, please contact Sarah Caulton on 03 477 2238 or


Sarah Caulton, Senior Associate