Immigration changes give preference to wealthy

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 10:26 05/03/2012

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A Cabinet paper shows the Government is planning to tighten up on family members seeking New Zealand residency while giving preference to better-off immigrants.

The draft paper leaked to the Labour Party shows Immigration New Zealand is planning to create a two-tier system where applications from parents sponsored by their higher income children, or those who bring a guaranteed income or funds, would be processed faster than other applications.

The system would also be tightened for those in the second tier for wealthier immigrants so that only those with no adult children living in their home country would be eligible.

Sponsors would be required to support immigrating parents for a period of 10 years, up from five, and parents would no longer be able to bring dependent children.

Parents with poor English would also need to "pre-purchase tuition".

The sibling and adult child immigration category would be removed to reduce the number of unskilled migrants who find it more difficult to get jobs and are more likely to get benefit payments.

Samoan immigrants would also be affected with the introduction of new minimum income levels.

Immigration Minister Nathan Guy said the policy was aimed at attracting migrants with the right skills and wealth to help grow New Zealand's economy.

"That is why we want new migrants to be self-sufficient and be able to contribute to New Zealand, rather than going straight onto a benefit."

However Labour's immigration spokeswoman Darien Fenton said New Zealand was becoming a country where only the rich were welcome.

"We roll out the red carpet for them, yet we make it near impossible for good, less well-off families."

The paper was prepared for the first 100 days of the new government but the changes were omitted in a briefing to incoming minister Nathan Guy which was publicly released last month.

"They will come as a shock to the thousands of people in New Zealand looking to reunite their families, especially given the special treatment handed out to millionaires such as Kim Dotcom," Fenton said.

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