'Centre of gravity rule' enables Chinese to help their parents
By Lincoln Tan
The New Zealand Herald
4:00 AM Monday Jan 18, 2010
Immigrant Ally Wang, 35, from Guangzhou, is anxiously waiting after sponsoring her 66-year-old father Zhi Wang and 60-year-old mother Ying Xu for residency.
The North Shore mother of an 11-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl says New Zealand's relaxed lifestyle and educational opportunities for her children made her move here.
“I really love my life in New Zealand, but it does not feel complete without my mum and dad,” she said.
She is hoping to take advantage of New Zealand's immigration policy which makes it easier for those from China to sponsor parents and family members to come to New Zealand.
Parents can be sponsored to become permanent residents if they have half or more of their children living in New Zealand.
Immigration New Zealand defines a family's “centre of gravity” as “the number of their adult children lawfully and permanently in New Zealand being equal or greater than those in any single country”.
Because of China's one-child policy, this means nearly every new resident from China will be able to sponsor his or her parents to live in New Zealand permanently.
Immigration expert Professor Paul Spoonley describes the New Zealand policy as being “China friendly, by default”.
Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman says there are no plans to change it.
“The potential for family reunification is a factor in attracting skilled migrants to New Zealand and keeping them here,” he said.
Chinese shop assistant Brenda Li, 27, said since she got her permanent residency in 2003, she had sponsored her parents and also obtained residency for her 25-year-old boyfriend, from Wuhan, one of the 1352 granted residency through the partnership policy last year.
Her partner is in the process of sponsoring his parents to become residents.
“We are very grateful to the New Zealand Government for giving us the chance to start a new life here together with our whole family,” she said.
“Both my partner and I are our parents' only child, and it is our responsibility to look after them.”
Auckland University Professor of Asian Studies Manying Ip said last year that many born under China's one-child policy were taking advantage of the parent policy by sponsoring their parents, and even grandparents, here.
She warned this would bring new challenges in health, housing and socio-economic issues.
Top eight source countries for permanent residence aged 20 and over:
2.United Kingdom (6302)
3.South Africa (3409)
8.United States (859)
Total number granted permanent residence in 2008/09: 46,097