Saturday, December 4

Chinese immigrants seek clarity on resident visa category for parents


A group of about 400 Chinese immigrants wants the government to reopen the resident visa for parents.

Emma Zhang and her parents in Queenstown, 2016.

Emma Zhang with her parents in Queenstown, 2016. Her father has since died.
Photo: Supplied / Emma Zhang

The category, which allows parents of migrants to come to live in New Zealand, was suspended in 2016. It was due to reopen with new criteria in early 2020, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Migrants say the government should stop pausing on when and if the category will reopen.

Auckland man Wang has been in New Zealand for 14 years. He arrived as a student, before starting a family and opening a poker business.

As an only child, he expected his parents, who are in their 60s and living in Jiangsu, eastern China, to move here.

There was a glimmer of hope when the government proposed to reopen the category in early 2020 before it was postponed.

He said the government needed to provide some certainty and that if the category was not reopened, it might consider leaving the country.

“They ask us to wait. So far, we have waited five years. How many more five years do we have? How many five more years are our parents?”

Wellington IT specialist Emma Zhang has been in New Zealand for nine years and submitted an expression of interest before the category was closed in 2016.

However, his father died of a brain hemorrhage the following year. Being pregnant, she did not see her father again and it has become a deep regret in her life.

Now her mother lives alone in Liaoning, northeast China, and worries about her constantly.

“I am the only daughter. In Chinese culture, it is our responsibility to take care of parents,” she said.

Zhang said there was no communication from New Zealand immigration even though his expression of interest was in the pool for years.

“Everything is waiting, waiting, waiting and with no response or no voice from the government saying how they are going to reconsider the criteria. Nothing just happened. That is what disappoints me a lot.”

The proposed reopening of the visa category came with a financial problem: An applicant would have to be earning $ 160,000 a year before both parents could attend.

Helen Zhao's parents visited Auckland in 2018.

Helen Zhao’s parents visited Auckland in 2018.
Photo: Supplied / Helen Zhao

Auckland woman Helen Zhao is the organizer of two social media groups of people who want to bring their parents to New Zealand.

She said the visa should be returned and with less punitive financial demands.

“You must open this, or you must tell us what your plan is, and the second claim would be to adjust the income threshold to a reasonable amount that would make it possible for most of us to bond with our parents.”

Zhao emphasized that many Chinese are the only children in the family and it was difficult for them and their parents to be separated from each other.

Helen Zhao's parents and granddaughter walking around Auckland.

Helen Zhao’s parents with their granddaughter in Auckland.
Photo: Supplied / Helen Zhao

He said that most of the parents who came here would not be a burden to the state.

“Actually, I don’t understand what the government is concerned about. I don’t think such a minority group will have a big impact on the national health system and I think probably all the parents in our social media group have the China government pension.” , said.

A spokesman for the Immigration Minister said no decisions had been made on resuming the selections for the parent category.

“A planned review of the category closer to when border travel becomes more available will look at barriers to access, including consideration of income thresholds,” they said in a statement.

Currently, Immigration New Zealand has a backlog of applications attempting to allow 5,919 parents to enter the country.


www.rnz.co.nz

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