A Whanganui family feels like they're back to square one when it comes to bringing their overseas parents to New Zealand to live permanently.

Nitin and Kalpna Parashar moved to New Zealand and settled in Whanganui eight years ago. They planned to eventually bring over their parents, who live in India.

They believe those plans have been dashed with this week's announcement that immigration authorities will again begin taking applications under the Parent Category visa programme from February, but with much higher-earning requirements.

The programme allows parents to join adult children who have become residents or citizens and earn over a certain amount.

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Under the refreshed scheme, the Government will only allow about 1000 parents to join their children each year, significantly fewer than the 5500 coming over before the scheme was paused by the previous government in 2016.

A single earner previously had to make $65,000 a year but they'll now need to earn $106,000, and about $159,000 if they want to bring two parents. A couple will have to earn more than $159,000 to be joined by one parent and $212,000 for two.

Nitin said it was an impossible requirement to meet.

"If the criteria is like $150,000 for a single person to earn, I don't think it will ever be possible to get our parents here, especially in Whanganui. I don't think anybody has that type of earning in Whanganui," he said.

"The whole plan when we came to Whanganui was based on one day we would be able to get our parents here.

Nitin and Kalpena Paresha say new rules don't work for regional New Zealand.
Nitin and Kalpena Paresha say new rules don't work for regional New Zealand.

"We really struggled hard for the first five years. Now we have our own business but it's a baby business so we were thinking in two years the books would reach a level where we can prove our income, but the threshold has gone so high."

Kalpna said the new programme doesn't really help families like hers.

"The rules change very often in immigration, so when we got our residency the rules was that after three years you were eligible to get your parents over.

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"By the time we completed our three years the rules had changed and then immigration for parents had completely closed by that time.

"In the last three years all we've been thinking [is] when will it open again and now that it has, we're still in the same place."

Kalpna suggested regional towns should have a lower earning bracket relative to average income in that town or city, but said it could be misused by some.

The couple said they will see an immigration consultant about their options but aren't confident.

"Right now our parents are fine and healthy, but there will be a time when they will have to come here and they will need us," Nitin said.

"Basically we are just stuck."