Immigration Visa

Immigration Visa

There is no immigration visa for which retirees themselves can apply available from Australia, Canada or New Zealand. Retirees can settle in these countries but help is needed. It is necessary for a relative who is a legal permanent resident or citizen to make the first move. Sponsorship requires a minimum income in all cases and some resources from the retiree are usually necessary. Time for processing some immigration visas can be a problem for some sponsors and retirees.

The Australian Immigration Visa

The situation so far as Australia is concerned is complex. There are about 71 different immigration visas for various purposes. The Australian Immigration web site is detailed and very clear. Most of these do not lead to permanent residence. Those applicable to retirees can be expensive and there may be processing waits of up to thirty years. There are special provisions if a retiree’s only surviving family is in Australia. The Australian regulations are further complicated by special arrangements that are available to New Zealand citizens.

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The Canadian Immigration Visa

Canadian permanent residents and citizens can sponsor their parents and grandparents for immigration visas. The conditions are complex and currently there is a wait of over five years for visa processing. There is also available a multiple entry “parents and grandparents super visa” which allows visits of up to two years. Again sponsorship is necessary but processing times are shorter. The Canadian government web site on the subject of immigration visas is very clear and detailed although it does require following a number of tabs to cover all aspects of the subject.

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The New Zealand Immigration Visa

The New Zealand relevant web sites are also very clear and detailed about sponsorship and parent/grandparent immigration visas. The information does take a bit of “chasing” via various tabs of the sites but everything needed to establish eligibility is accessible. There is a visa available for retirees with access to funds which leads to permanent residence after four years. As with Australia and Canada fees are applicable and none are low.

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The major differences between these three countries, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and others that do provide specific visas for retirees lies in the reasons for attracting new immigrants. The countries being considered here do not need new people for population increase, to attract new capital (foreign currency) in exchange for residential or citizenship concessions, to enhance the experience of their populations or for population diversity purposes. All maintain control of their population via the natural increase of current residents and citizens and by way of active refugee (and political statelessness) intake programs. Capital and foreign currency is attracted by commercial and trade (import/export) and foreign investment ventures. Skills shortages are dealt with via temporary visa programs which change as deficiencies are resolved or as seasons change. All are already multicultural countries.

The need for and desirability of family reunion is recognized. The sponsorship programs which allow for the settlement of those related to current residents and citizens are the result of this humanitarian understanding of the various governments. It is the result of previous and now unnecessary immigrant encouraging policies that have given rise to separated families.

Perhaps the best known migrant program was the Australian “Ten Pound Pom” scheme. For just £10 and nothing more than the desire to escape a war ravaged Europe (and the British climate) an Englishman could take the boat for Australia. Unemployment, even for the unskilled, was not a problem in the antipodes. The other countries had their own variations to attract migrants. All were underpopulated and lacked labour. Times have changed.

Australian Coat of Arms
Canadian Coat of Arms
New Zealand Coat of Arms

Documents Required for Permanent Residence

All of the government web sites for which links are provided above are comprehensive and clear with respect to the immigration visa regulations. The documentary requirements are given precisely for both sponsors, retirees and dependents. Also shown on these sites are the visitor or tourist visa conditions and when and for whom visa free entry is possible. “Golden Rule” visits (make no irrevocable decisions or moves without having visited the country of choice at least once) are easily achievable. The fees are also specified for all visas.

There may be small differences between the countries in the documents needed and the authentication processes necessary but the following may be considered as a “minimum set” of documents for sponsors, retirees and dependents:

  1. Sponsor
  1. Proof of residency or citizenship (birth certificate or naturalization certificate)
  2. Proof of financial ability to be a sponsor (bank statement and/or salary slip)

The information at (1) above may need to be in the form of an affidavit and the supporting documents certified as true copies by an appropriate authority.

  1. Retiree (and dependents)
  1. Birth Certificate
  2. Marriage Certificate (where applicable)
  3. Marriage ending document (eg divorce decree, annulment certificate, death certificate)
  4. Passport (usually with at least 6 months to expiry)
  5. Police Clearance Certificate(s)
  6. Proof of relationship to sponsor
  7. Medical Examination (possibly also including X-ray)
  8. Financial Documents as necessary (Bank statements, salary slip, proof of pension entitlement)

Documents 1.1.,1.2., and 1.3. should be copies issued by the authority that issued the originals. Police Clearance Certificates. 1. 5 above, may have a “life” as short as one month but some countries are happy with six months. This proof, 1.6. may be as informal as family photographs, school or church reports or attendance records. Medical examinations, 1.7. above, will have to have been conducted by approved examining authorities and may have extant “lives” similar to Police Clearance Certificates. Financial documents mentioned at 1.8. may need to be certified by the bank, company accountant or pension authority as appropriate.

There should be no need to employ the services of an attorney if fluency in English (or French so far as Canada is concerned) is not a problem. If the language may present a problem or to be certain that current departmental practice and regulations are followed lawyers can easily be found in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The above guidelines are given in general terms only. There may be variations between the countries. The civil services in all are usually very efficient and dependable. There will usually be no variation between similar cases and precedent does count in these places. Appeals procedures are frequently in place so an initial refusal or lack of success in an application may not be the ultimate outcome. No prejudice against either an applicant or a sponsor would ensue for taking advantage of such facilities if needed. It is unlikely in these countries to experience corruption at this level of dealing with the government.

Process for Permanent Residence

As stated above the government web sites linked above are very good and they make the process involved to obtain the relevant immigration visa and the department to which to apply clear. Usually the department is whatever is the local name or variant for the immigration department. In Australia, for example, it is the Department of Immigration and Border Control.

General Comments

Unlike most countries to which retirees aspire to go these three are First World, industrialized and developed nations. Services, such as water, electricity, telephone and the internet are reliable and of a high standard. Generally tap water is safe to drink, electricity supply is at a standard and maintained voltage and frequency, electronic communication services are available even in remote areas. Road, rail, sea and air services are excellent. Emergency services, fire, police and medical facilities are good throughout. Financial services, stock markets, insurance and banking organizations are well developed.

Consumer goods from all over the world can be had in shops, stores and businesses in most cities and towns. Access to services, particularly hospitals and doctors, is not cheap but these countries usually adopt a “treat or act first” policy rather than initially establishing the ability of those in need to pay. Social and welfare systems are well respected and adapted for local needs. At local levels there is little or no corruption of government officials who can be trusted to do their jobs without fear or favour to the best of their abilities.

If retirees come from other First World countries then it will be easy to “import” or re-create the previous lifestyle. This will not be a cheap exercise and the cost of living in these countries is among the highest in the world. Often new immigrants will not at first have “free” access to health and social facilities. There is usually a period of residence that must be achieved before it is possible to have such access as do the “locals”. This essentially, produces the need for sponsorship. Those whose taxes have paid for such facilities may expect to be protected from others who have, as yet, contributed nothing.

Many consider a new life in their later years among family compensation enough for any initial difficulties. There is also the opportunity to develop new friendships and activities that may have been impossible previously without family company and support.


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