You may be wondering if and how you can get a Visa in New Zealand through investment at the current time. In this article, we explore the options.
The first point to note is that this information is current as at September 2023. We are approaching a General Election in New Zealand, to be held in October 2023. If the Opposition wins the election, it seems probable there will be some change.
Active Investor Plus
This is the main option for people wanting to invest in New Zealand at the current time.
The category requires an investment of at least NZD$5million into ‘direct investments’ or weighted equivalent in managed funds, listed equities or philanthropy. In basic terms, ‘direct investments’ are investments into approved companies registered with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (frequently new/start-up companies without significant history). Direct investments receive 3x weighting. Investments in managed funds received 2x weighting, and investments in listed equities and philanthropy receive 1x weighting. In other words, up to NZD$15 million may need to be invested under the category depending on the spread of investment between these investment products.
If approved, the application results in the grant of a Residence Visa, with a requirement to spend at least 117 days in New Zealand during a 48-month Investment period.
We have blogged about the Active Investor Plus category previously, see here.
As at 28 July 2023, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) had received 30 applications under the Active Investor Plus category. It appears that uptake of the new category has been slow. This may be because making ‘direct investments’ into new/start-up companies can be risky, especially with the New Zealand economy in recession at the start of 2023.
There remains categories called the ‘Entrepreneur Work Visa‘ and ‘Entrepreneur Residence Visa‘ for people wanting to establish a business in New Zealand, but the requirements of the category are so difficult to meet and so many applications have been declined that it has largely been labelled by Immigration Lawyers and Advisers as unfit for purpose.
If someone asks us about an Entrepreneur Visa, we usually try to encourage them to consider a different type of Visa instead.
There is a Residence category available to those with a sponsoring New Zealand citizen or resident child. The applicant needs to invest at least NZD$1million in ‘acceptable investments’ for 4 years, show they own at least $NZD500,000 in settlement funds and have an annual income of at least NZD$60,000 per year at the time of the application. Often people struggle to meet the annual income requirement, as income from Government pension payments alone is frequently insufficient.
There is also a 2-year Visitor Visa available to those aged 66 or over, with a sponsoring New Zealand citizen or resident child. The applicant needs to invest at least NZD$750,000 in acceptable investments for 2 years, show they own at least $NZD500,000 in settlement funds and have an annual income of at least NZD$60,000 per year at the time of the application. Again, we find people often struggle to meet the annual income requirement.
‘Acceptable investments’ comprise a range of options, but do not include residential property. Foreign investment in residential property in New Zealand is a hot topic as we approach the election in October 2023.
What can we see for the future?
The Opposition has indicated that if it wins the election, ‘foreign buyers’ will be allowed to purchase residential property in New Zealand over NZD$2million. This will represent a change from the current position, which since 2017 has been to prevent foreign buyers from purchasing residential property (with the exception of citizens of Australia and Singapore).
The Opposition Party’s policy has received much attention in the New Zealand media, see for example an interview with Deputy Leader Nicola Willis on Television New Zealand here, and a tense interview with the Leader Christopher Luxon on TV3 here.
It seems unclear yet whether the Opposition supports investment in residential property as a way to be granted a Residence Visa, for example as an ‘acceptable investment’ under the Parent Retirement category or a more relaxed Active Investor Plus category.
On their website, the Opposition does currently list the following types of Visa to be introduced, on the basis that these are seen as a way to support economic growth.
- International Graduates Visa – a three-year open work visa for highly educated people who have gained a bachelor’s degree or higher within the last five years from one of the top 100 universities in the world.
- Global Growth Tech Visa – a residence visa for people with highly specialised skills who have worked at a top global tech company earning at least NZ$400,000.
- Digital Nomad Visa – a 12-month visa to attract skilled, highly-mobile people to come to New Zealand while working remotely for an overseas-based company, with the option to apply for a work or residence visa later if they choose to stay.
Questions that come to mind from these proposals include:
– Will an International Graduates Visa for graduates of the world’s top 100 universities avoid displacing graduates of New Zealand universities from employment opportunities? Does an International Graduates Visa diminish the achievements and employment prospects of New Zealand degree-holders?
– Will a Global Growth Tech Visa require an applicant to work in New Zealand? Or does their high salary and employment with a top tech firm provide them with a simple pathway to the rights and privileges enjoyed by New Zealand Residents?
– What type of ‘overseas company’ will a Digital Nomad Visa be available for?
The answers to these questions seem likely to be available only when detailed immigration instructions are released, if some or all of the new policies are implemented after the election.
Investment in New Zealand remains an option right now as a way to get a Visa. However, if the present Government loses the October election it seems likely there will be some change. Investment in New Zealand will continue to be a hot topic as we approach the election. Watch this space.