This has not yet been publicly been released by the Minister of Immigration.  The Long Term Business Visa policy is to be replaced by a new “Entrepreneur Work Visa”, as I alerted readers in a recent post.So what’s the big change?  For one thing, people who want to get a business visa must now invest at least NZ$100,000.  This has been done presumably to squeeze out a lot of small-scale business proposals which are viewed as low-value for the NZ economy.

More critically, the philosophy of the policy has changed toward approving only those Business Plans which can show:

  • “Innovation” – this probably means introduction of new services and new technology
  • exports – that is, companies who only serve the domestic market will have less chance of success.  Buying a cafe or a service station will not get you very far.

The Entrepreneur Work Visa application will be a points-based process.  This continues the trend set by Skilled Migrant and the Investor 2 Residence policies.  Like Skilled Migrant, additional points will be awarded for setting up a business outside Auckland.  New Zealand faces a serious problem of the contraction of rural and “non-Auckland” economies, and hopes to engineer some change.

The Minister’s Press Release which will come out shortly summarises the reasons for this change.  Firstly, although the Minister skirts around the issue, the Government is clearly dissatisfied with the size and standard of businesses which have got LTBV visas over the last few years.  That attitude is no surprise to those of us in the industry.  Secondly, there is a positive push to attract:

high growth and innovative businesses with export potential.

That means more taxable income and a contribution to New Zealand’s balance of payments ledger.  What hasn’t changed is a concern to create employment opportunities for New Zealanders.

The LTBV policy closes on 20 December – that’s next Friday.  The new policy opens in March 2014.  That means that no-one will be able to apply for a business visa during January and February 2014.  It is typical of Immigration to make such announcements with very little warning.