21 August 2006

New Zealand relaxes family migration rules

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New Zealand's immigration rules are being relaxed to make it easier for people to bring their partners and children into the country.

From July next year, a cap on the number of residence permits for the partners and dependant children of New Zealand citizens and residents is being removed.

The change will affect 15,000 people a year who have previously had to wait between four months and two years for their residence applications to be processed.

Spouses and dependent children will still have to prove they are who they say they are, and meet basic health and character requirements.

The decision to remove the cap has even earned the approval of the Government opposition, although they insist it should never have been there in the first place.

"Any move that enables families to be re-united is welcome, "Green Party Immigration Spokesperson Keith Locke said.

"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."

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