Immigration and eligibility for services
Updated: 01 July 2013
This document outlines the procedures in respect of the role played in intercountry adoption by Immigration New Zealand of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Specific information on the immigration steps for each country can be found in the relevant sending country section.
Citizenship and immigration
The citizenship the child holds immediately prior to his or her entry to New Zealand will determine the involvement of Immigration New Zealand. There are two alternatives:
- The child receives a New Zealand passport from the Department of Internal Affairs, while still overseas, thereby having New Zealand citizenship confirmed prior to entry to the country. Immigration New Zealand is not involved.
- If the child is entering New Zealand using another country’s passport the child will require an entry visa from Immigration New Zealand. Children of school age will apply for a student visa and others will apply for a temporary visa. This is the case whether the child is to be adopted in New Zealand or is adopted overseas and has had the adoption recognised but is yet to gain formal citizenship. The fact that a child has been adopted does not, of itself, entitle the child to be issued with a visa to travel to New Zealand, and visa officers will assess whether or not the child meets the requirements for a residence class visa or a temporary class visa.
Immigration NewZealand requires confirmation that the adoption proposed or completed is supported by the New Zealand Central Authority (NZCA) before they will allow a child to enter New Zealand. New Zealand citizens who have adopted a child through the NZCA are not required to undertake an Immigration New Zealand sponsorship for the child.
Confirmation is sent to Immigration New Zealand in the form of a letter which can be found in the appendices of each country section. Unless the adoption is arranged through an accredited body, the letter will be generated by the site social worker and forwarded through the NZCA.
New Zealand residency
Children adopted in the New Zealand Family Court on or after 1 January 2006 acquire New Zealand citizenship at the date of the adoption if at least one of their parents is entitled to be in New Zealand indefinitely in terms of the Immigration Act 1987, i.e. a residence permit holder or Australian citizen.
The child will not be entitled to New Zealand Citizenship, but will take the residency status of their adoptive parents if the adoption:
- was made overseas and is recognised under s11 of the Adoption (Intercountry) Act 1997 (the Hague process)
- was overseas and is recognised under s17 of the Adoption Act 1955
- occurred in the New Zealand Family Court prior to 1 January 2006.
In cases where the child acquires the residency status of their parents through a residence permit (as distinct from Australian citizenship) this will be a visa within the child’s passport of their country of birth.
As part of determining the child’s eligibility for a visa, Immigration New Zealand has the responsibility to assess if an applicant for a visa has an “acceptable standard of health”. They need to be sure that the child to be adopted is unlikely to:
- be a danger to public health
- impose significant costs or demands on New Zealand’s health services or special education services.
When the New Zealand Central Authority receives a Child Study for the match to be approved, and before the proposal can be introduced to the applicants, the document needs to be read carefully for any potential health concerns that may prevent the child’s entry to New Zealand. Any concerns identified will be discussed with the Immigration Service.
The Hague Convention requires that the child’s eligibility to enter and reside in the adoptive country be guaranteed before the adoption is undertaken. It stipulates that any adoption decision for children should take into account their life and particular circumstances as a whole. These requirements guide the NZCA’s discussions with the Immigration Service. Care is taken to ensure a child’s medical status does not override all the other environmental factors that were the rationale for his/her need for intercountry adoption, thus disadvantaging a child most in need. These discussions are not binding and new information prior to the granting of the visa may change the outcome. The decision remains that of Immigration New Zealand.
If, however, the adoption occurs overseas and has been recognised, the child has already become a citizen and a New Zealand passport holder and so can enter without restriction.
Renewal of visa
The onus is on the applicant, or the accredited body to note the expiry date of the child’s New Zealand visa in order that an extension can be applied for if the finalisation process extends beyond this date.
Eligibility to go to school
An exemption from paying foreign student educational fees is available for some children entering New Zealand via intercountry adoption. Some students will be regarded as “not international students” which means they will be treated as domestic students. This includes:
A person who has entered New Zealand for the purposes of adoption and:
- whose adoption application before the New Zealand Family Court (where the Final Order will entitle that person to education as a domestic student) is supported by Oranga Tamariki and who has a letter confirming that support, or
- who is the subject of an Interim Order of Adoption granted by the New Zealand Family Court under section 5 of the Adoption Act 1955 (where the Final Order will entitle that person to education as a domestic student).
Children who come into the country, for whom a direct application is then made to the New Zealand court for adoption, will remain international students. These children will generally have a Visitor Visa or a Student Visa and either of these will entitle them to be fee-paying students until their status is resolved.
For further information about this contact the NZCA who will liaise with the Ministry of Education if necessary.
The exemption does not apply to tertiary education, regardless of whether or not the young person entered New Zealand with Oranga Tamariki support for the purpose of adoption.
Eligibility for health care
Adoptive applicants may not have formal New Zealand guardianship of the child who enters New Zealand for the purpose of adoption into their family. This does not affect their ability to seek medical treatment for that child which is their entitlement under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000. A letter is to be given to applicants as required.
The Care of Children Act (2004) in s36 (4) states that if a child has been lawfully placed for the purpose of adoption in the home of any person, then, for the purposes of consent of any other person to any medical, surgical, or dental treatment or procedure (including a blood transfusion), that person must be treated as a guardian of the child.
Citizenship by descent
Adoption recognition entitles the adopted children of New Zealand citizens to citizenship upon application. For adopted children of permanent residents see the Immigration section above.
The step of legal recognition of the adoption is required for a child to become a New Zealand citizen. Under s3 of the Citizenship Act 1977, the adopted child becomes a New Zealand citizen by descent if adopted by a New Zealand citizen where that adoption:
- was made in New Zealand under the Adoption Act
- was made outside New Zealand in accordance with the Hague Convention and compliance is confirmed by the issue of an Article 23 certificate by the New Zealand Central Authority, thus finalising the adoption
- is an adoption to which section 17 of the Adoption Act applies, and the child was under 14 years of age when the adoption order was made.