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If you have migrated to New Zealand already but your children are still living overseas you may be interested in knowing how you can bring your children to New Zealand to join you.

There are two main ways to achieve this, either by including them in your own application for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category or by lodging a separate application under the Dependent Child Policy. The other options would be for your children to apply for a Student Visa.

Student Visa

The Student visa option is quite costly –If you want your children to study at primary or secondary school level, you will be required to pay International Student fees unless the children are eligible as ‘domestic students’. To be considered as domestic students, the children must be considered as ‘dependent children’ and one of the parents must hold:

  • A residence or citizenship
  • a work visa or
  • a student visa as a PHD student

To study at University, children will be required to apply for a student visa and will have to pay full foreign student fees. This can be very expensive so it is advisable to explore whether they can apply for residence first and then study.

Dependent Child Residence 

You will need to meet a number of requirements to have your children’s residence applications approved under this category. Firstly, you must be lawfully and permanently in New Zealand. (Resident or Citizen)

Children must meet the following criteria:


  • be aged 17 years or younger; or
  • be aged 18 to 24 years, and have no children of their own.

Legal children

  • be born or adopted before you applied for residence, or
  • be born after you applied for residence, or
  • be adopted as a result of a New Zealand adoption or an overseas adoption recognised under New Zealand law.


  • Children must be be single (i.e not in a partnership)


  • Children aged 21 to 24 must be totally or substantially dependent on an adult for financial support.
  • Applicants aged 20 or younger are eligible for residence as dependent children whether they are       financially dependent on an adult or not.

Custody and Visitation Rights

If your child is under 16 years of age and they have a parent living in another country, you must provide evidence that custody or visitation rights of the parent living outside New Zealand would not be breached by your child coming to live in New Zealand.


As you can see, the area of dependent children coming to New Zealand either as students or as residents is quite complicated. There are a number of considerations to be taken into account and it is important to plan out the best way to get your children here well in advance.

To talk with us about a comprehensive immigration and study plan for your entire family, contact our expert team at Immigration Centre at 04-934-9533.

Until next time,
Jig Patel,
Managing Director