Immigrating to New Zealand – the investor categories

by Jamie Nunns - Morrison Kent

New Zealand’s investor migrant policy has proven to be extremely successful since its inception with approximately $5 billion in funds invested and committed to investment in New Zealand since 2009.

In October 2016, the government introduced a number of changes to immigration policy which were subsequently fine tuned before coming into effect in May 2017. Many of these changes made it more challenging for migrants to obtain residence, some of which are discussed in articles on our website: Immigrating to New Zealand – The Skilled Migrant Category and Immigration – Parent Residence Category Closed – What are your options now? However, the changes to the investor categories are comparatively minor and this is not surprising considering how the New Zealand economy has benefited to date.

Investor Plus – Investor 1 Category 

The Investor 1 Category requires an applicant make NZ$10 million investment over the course of three years in an area deemed “acceptable” by Immigration New Zealand. The restrictions in respect of this visa are not strenuous and understandably so considering the amount of money an applicant promises to invest in New Zealand. To that end, no age, business experience or English language requirements need be satisfied. The few requirements under this category include disclosures of good character and health and an applicant must spend a certain amount of time in New Zealand.

The main change to this policy is in relation to the minimum amount of time an applicant must spend in New Zealand – a change beneficial to potential migrants. Previously, an applicant was required to spend at least 44 days in each of years two and three of their investment timeframe in New Zealand. However, the updated policy allows those who invest a minimum of 25% of their funds in “growth-oriented” investments to spend a minimum of 88 days in New Zealand over the entire three year period. Further explanation of the incentive and risk of growth-oriented investment is discussed below.

Investor 2 Category

The Investor 2 Category requires an applicant to make in New Zealand an acceptable investment of significantly less funds compared to the Investor 1 Category. The category places less weight on financial requirements and more on the applicant and their skills.

The category allows an applicant to submit a points-based expression of interest (EoI) which will be considered relatively against other applicants’ EoIs. The number of EoIs which will be accepted has increased from 300 to 400.

Applicants must invest their funds in New Zealand over four years, be 65 years old or younger, meet English language requirements, have at least three years’ business experience as well as meet the health and character requirements also imposed in the Investor 1 Category. The “tweaked” policy rewards increased points to applicants with greater business experience and skills in the English language.

The changes to the Investor 2 Category again cannot be said to have far reaching consequences. The major amendment by which the minimum required investment has increased from NZ$1.5 million to NZ$3 million has also removed the need for an applicant to have NZ$1 million available in settlement funds. Further, the policy now incentivises growth-oriented investment, providing that an applicant who invests at least NZ$1.5 million in “growth-oriented” investment only need invest a further NZ$1 million.

Therefore, in theory, an applicant need only have available NZ$2.5 million, the same amount of total funds required under the previous policy. That said, an applicant may be better of investing an extra NZ$500,000 and their money outside of the growth-oriented option given that growth-oriented investments offer higher returns over longer periods and the risks involved with short-term investment in that category. 

The changes to the Investor 2 Category when taken as a whole do not appear to greatly prejudice those who might have applied under the previous policy. That said, those who may be inconvenienced by the minor amendments are applicants with limited funds and business experience, poor English and those not willing to consider growth-oriented investment. 

It is advisable to get specific legal advice about your particular circumstances, when determining what your best course of action is. 

If you would like any further information or advice please contact the article author Jamie Nunns  or the Morrison Kent Wellington office (04) 472-0020.


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