A former Immigration Minister says the Government should permanently can the parent visa category as it is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Tuariki Delamere, a NZ First Immigration Minister in the 1990s and now an immigration consultant, had a number of concerns with the visa category, which has been temporarily closed since late 2016.

Chief among them was children who gained New Zealand residency, then brought their parents into the country under the visa, and then left.

The visa enabled parents to join their adult children in New Zealand if they were a resident or citizen.

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"What you have here is children bringing parents here as residents, as soon as they get their residence the kids piss off back to wherever and limp back overseas, while the parents are here – as Winston would say – sucking on the teat of the taxpayer," Delamere told the Herald.

"If their children piss off back where they came from, then the parent visas [should] be cancelled after two or three months."

Yesterday, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said the decision to reopen the parent visa category would come before Cabinet in the first half of this year.

This was despite the fact Immigration NZ officials had expected a decision about the visa category to have been made in June last year.

There are close to 6000 people who have been in limbo on the visa wait list for more than two years.

But Migrant Action Trust chairwoman Camille Nakhid has called on Lees-Galloway to reinstate the parent visa.

"I think family reunification is always a good thing, it makes [people] more comfortable in the host countries they have decided to settle in."

She said most of the people who came to New Zealand were from quite close family communities and to have families close would help with wellbeing.

Delamere was also concerned that New Zealanders would foot the bill for the medical bills of older parents who came to New Zealand on the visa.

"I believe there is not any inherent right for parents to get residence visas in New Zealand based on their kids."

Although he said he understood why children would want their parents to come to New Zealand, it was not fair for them to "piggyback" into New Zealand.

"The reality is they are old which means very soon they're going to require substantial and expensive medical interventions."

This would be at the cost of taxpayers, which he said was not fair.

Instead, he said the Government should have a five-year visa for parents which they must reapply for at its expiration.

To qualify, a parent must have an "acceptable standard" of health and pre-paid health insurance.