Immigrating to New Zealand with a dependent child (age 24 or under) with Down syndrome

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) decides applications using government immigration instructions and legislation to minimise risk and maximise advantage to New Zealand.

INZ must make its decisions on the principles of fairness and natural justice.

Parents must first fulfil the requirements for the category under which they apply (Skilled Migrant Category, Business, Family or Temporary Entry.

A standard medical certificate for each family member must be presented with the application. Download the medical form from the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) website»

Down syndrome must be declared because the medical form includes the questions:

  • “Do you have any physical, psychological, communication, developmental or intellectual disabilities which may affect your ability to earn a living or take full care of yourself now or in later life?”
  • “Are you receiving special support services?”

The medical certificate may be referred to an INZ-appointed Medical Assessor who will provide an assessment of whether the applicant has an acceptable standard of health for residence or temporary entry to New Zealand.

The objectives of immigration health instructions are to:

  1. protect public health in New Zealand,
  2. ensure that people entering New Zealand do not impose excessive costs and demands on New Zealand’s health and special education services, and
  3. where applicable, ensure that applicants for entry to New Zealand are able to undertake the functions for which they have been granted entry.

The second point (2) usually causes difficulties for children with Down syndrome. The decision will usually be delayed pending extra information being provided.

If an assessment is made that the applicant does not have an acceptable standard of health, they may be eligible for consideration for a medical waiver. When determining whether a medical waiver should be granted, an immigration officer must consider the circumstances of the applicant to decide whether they are compelling enough to justify allowing entry to, and/or a stay in New Zealand.

Please contact Immigration New Zealand (INZ) for concerns about individual cases.

Changes to immigration requirements

In November 2012, the Government introduced a number of changes to its immigration requirements, including health screening.

The effect is likely to be that some disabled people with high-cost support needs who may have been able to come to live in New Zealand now may not be able to.

All migrants to New Zealand are expected to be of an acceptable standard of health. To assess whether a person applying for residency meets health requirements, there is a threshold for high cost health conditions and a list of common conditions which have been assessed as exceeding this threshold.