Immigrating to New Zealand with Older Children

Following on from my previous blog post about immigrating to New Zealand in your Fifties, I have received a number of emails around the topic of immigrating with older children. So what are your options if you are planning to immigrate and you have an 18 or 19 year old child?

Immigrating to New Zealand with a child at this age can create a number of rewarding opportunities for them. However, it is important to be aware of the implications involved before making the decision to move. The initial pathway for most families immigrating to New Zealand is by means of a work visa, and once eligible, they can then apply for residency. While a parent is on a work visa, it often creates an unfortunate set of circumstances for their young adult child.

Firstly, when a parent is on a work visa, the cut off age for supporting a dependent child is 19. The child would have to be single, have no children of their own and substantially reliant on you for support. So, if you have a 20 or 21 year old child that is completely dependent on you, they will not be able to apply for any form of dependent child visa.

If your child is 18 or 19 and finished school, they will only be able to apply for a dependent child visitor visa. The good thing is that their visa will be valid for the same duration as yours, the bad thing is that they will not be able study for more than 3 months per year and they can’t undertake ANY form of employment. What this means is that these young adults are often stuck in limbo for a period of time, sometimes up to 3 years without being able to work or study!

The most common question I get asked is how to get around this? There really are only two workable solutions in my opinion:

  1. The child can apply for a student visa which will allow them to study. This is a great option as the child is able to further their education and interact with their peers instead of being stuck at home all day. The stumbling block though, is they will be classed as international students and that comes with hefty tuition fees. For most mainstream qualifications this would translate into around $30,000 per year in tuition fees. It’s a requirement of the student visa that these are paid upfront and student loans are not an option while on a temporary visa.
  2. The child could potentially look for suitable employment and apply for their own work visa. At face value this would seem the easiest option, but it’s not quite a simple as it appears. The child would need to prove that they have the necessary skills and experience in a skill that is in short supply in NZ. That’s pretty unlikely considering that most will have no qualifications or experience to speak of. Also, most jobs available to them would me minimum wage which would not qualify for a work visa.

With the recent changes to the residence policy, for most immigrants it will be 2-3 years before they can apply for residence. It is important to note as even children who are currently 16 and 17 can find themselves in the same situation once they finish school.

So if you are considering immigrating to New Zealand with an older child, I encourage you to do your research and plan ahead. With careful planning, the move can be a positive and rewarding experience for both of you.

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