Investor visa announcement

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On Wednesday, the Minister of Economic and Regional Development and the Immigration Minister announced a complete overhaul of New Zealand investor visa regime.

Current regime

The current investor regime provides for two levels of visa.

The first is for individuals investing at least NZ$3 million. It involves an Expression of Interest into a selection pool and then a formal visa application. The successful applicant must maintain their investment for at least four years and spend at least 438 days in New Zealand over that time. There is a minimum English language requirement.

The second requires at least $10million of investment but has no intermediary step of awaiting selection from a pool of potential applications. The investment period is for only three years, and the successful applicant may only need to spend 88 days inside New Zealand during that period. There is no minimum English language requirement.

Current regime ends on 27 July

Both of the current types of Investor visas will close new applications on 27 July. That is in six days’ time.

A new Investor Visa will be available on 19 September

Both of the current Investor Visas will be replaced by a new Investor Visa called the “Active Investor Plus” (AI+) visa

Increased minimum investment amount

The minimum investment required for an AI+ visa will be NZ$15 million. However, certain types of investment will be “weighted” to count for two or three times their value. 

We understand that this is likely to be as follows:

  • An individual who makes “direct investment” into one of several NZ businesses, selected by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise will have their investment given three times its weight. Therefore, only a NZ$5million investment will be required.
  • An individual who makes into “indirect investments” into private equity or venture capital funds will have their investment given two times its weight. Therefore, only a NZ$7.5million investment will  be required.
  • An individual who invests into listed equities will not have the investment given any additional weight. Therefore, the full NZ$15million is required. However, it appears that a maximum of NZ$7.5 million is permitted into listed equities, so it may be that the last NZ$7.5 million will need to be in the form of philanthropic investment or donations.

Investment into bonds and property may no longer be assessed as acceptable investment.

Minimum time in New Zealand

Instead of only having to spend 88 or 438 days inside New Zealand over the investment period, applicants would need to spend 117 days in New Zealand to obtain permanent residence.

Minimum English language requirement for all applicants

We understand that it is proposed that all applicants will have to demonstrate that they possess a set minimum English language ability.

Flexibility as to when the investment needs to be made

It appears that applicants may have three years in which to make their investments, which they then must maintain over a fourth year. Under the current scheme, applicants must make their investment within 12 months of receiving an initial approval.

Intention behind the changes

The intention is to ensure that investors are actively involved in their New Zealand investments, so that New Zealand benefits both from the capital and these migrants’ business acumen and global connections.

In the past, there has been concern that wealthy individuals have used relatively passive investment regimes to obtain New Zealand residence, which may be part of the government’s motivation behind the changes. This may not be an accurate assessment. Many investors will use safe investments to obtain their residence. Thereafter, once they have permanent residence, and are confident in their ability to remain here long-term and have also gained an understanding of the New Zealand investment environment, proceed to make more active and valuable investments into our country.

For more information or specialist advice, please contact a member of our immigration team.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.

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