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Rip-off plan (1)

Buying residency to bypass the official queue
The new Parent Retirement Category visa is officially an extension of the existing Family Category visa designed for those who already have family in New Zealand and wish to be reunited with their children.

In fact, it reads more like a new investor category under a different name. And as with most other investments: depending on how and in what you invest, you could lose your money, as the most recent financial fiascos with seemingly solid banks and investment companies have shown. While the Government welcomes immigrants’ money to enter the country, it does not guarantee investors won’t incur losses.

Only the well-heeled need apply and will be put in the fast lane
But even worse, it is hard not to see it as buying residency for those who have little time but lots of money. This is because under the new Parent Retirement Category high net-worth individuals are prioritised over those who file their residency applications under the regular Family Parent Category.
While these applications can take up to two years to be processed, wealthy parent pensioners are put in the fast lane. The numbers to be approved in this new category come out of the general quota of 3,340 parents allowed under the Family Parent Category (figures for 2010 intake). Thus every rich pensioner who can buy his way into New Zealand takes away a place from those who cannot afford to pay.

To be approved under this category, applicants must:
  • have an adult child who lives in New Zealand and is either a new Zealand citizen or resident; and
  • be able to meet the ‘centre of gravity’ test under the Family Parent Policy; and
  • be able to nominate funds and/or assets amounting to NZ$ 1 million and invest that money in New Zealand for a period of four years; and
  • be able to provide evidence that they own the funds and/or assets and that they have been legally earned or acquired; and
  • be able to transfer and invest said money in an acceptable investment in New Zealand; and
  • be able to nominate funds of NZ$ 0.5 million of settlement funds and demonstrate ownership of these funds; and
  • have an annual income of at least NZ$ 60,000. 
In this category, the parent pensioner is allowed to include his/her partner and dependent children in the application. All applicants will need to have good health but are not required to buy health insurance because as permanent residents they will be eligible for free healthcare.
Some straight talk from the Minister of Immigration
Just like in the new Temporary Retirement Category, looking at the amounts involved it seems unlikely this new visa category will attract droves of wealthy pensioners anyway. But the concept as such speaks volumes about the attitude behind it.
After the new visa categories had been announced, Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman was quoted as saying he did not believe that giving priority to a wealthy set of parents would create resentment among immigrants because he believed that only a few hundred would qualify each year.
"Looking at what has happened in Australia with these policies, it is not a massively high uptake but there is a small niche market where it does make a difference to people and on balance there is only potential upside for the country from it. You get people going to settle in some nice retirement spot in New Zealand. They inject a bit of money into the local economy and they are also bringing in investment funds as well." (New Zealand Herald, 11 March 2010).
As an aside: doesn’t Jonathan Coleman’s „only a few hundred“ line of reasoning resemble the Government’s attitude displayed to „only a thousand“ pensioners disadvantaged by the Spousal Provision rule applied by WINZ when it comes to paying out NZ Super?
It appears fairness has to do with numbers rather than being a virtue in itself. If something is unfair, for whatever reason, but affects „only a few“, it doesn’t matter. Otherwise, the Minister for Immigration has made it clear: it’s all about injecting some new money into the local economy.