Immigration changes a mixed bag

The Green Party welcomes the scrapping of immigration restrictions on the partners and dependent children of New Zealand residents, but is concerned about the introduction of an age limit of 55 years on residency applications for siblings and adult children, Green Party Immigration Spokesperson Keith Locke says.

“Any move that enables families to be re-united is welcome. It can be all but impossible to set about building a new life in New Zealand when you are still separated from your partner or children.

“This removal of the cap on partners and children – which is due to commence in July next year – will also make New Zealand more attractive to skilled persons looking to move here, to stay here or to return to New Zealand to live. The original restrictions were shortsighted and inhumane, and this belated decision to remove them has to be applauded.

“I feel concerned though, about the new age limit on residency applications for siblings and adult children. The Immigration Minister has said that this new restriction ‘reflects’ the age restriction on skilled migrants, but there is no logical comparison between the two situations. Family re-unions call for the exercise of discretion and compassion in quite different ways to an economically driven programme aimed at attracting and retaining skilled migrants.

“We don’t need a formal age limit – especially when the rest of the family is already in New Zealand, as is often the case with Tongan or Samoan families. The duty of care to older relatives is one that New Zealand should not be automatically obstructing even if, in some cases, the exercise of discretion may place an extra burden on the health budget.”