With Covid-19 spreading across the planet, countries are finding it increasingly difficult to provide a safe environment for their citizens. Those particularly hit are larger countries, and countries with borders that are difficult to control. What people are looking for is a safe place, a modern country with an effective leadership, where they and their family can be secure. For many people, New Zealand is the answer. A modern yet isolated country, with an internationally respected leader, a welcoming business environment, world class education and medical facilities, a booming tech sector, and one of the world’s cleanest natural environments.
Unknown to most, New Zealand provides a visa which allows investors a fast path to residency. Within months of applying, an investor and their family, could hold residency visas.
There are two investment-based residence visa categories, Investor 1 and Investor 2. The main differences between the two categories is the amount that must be invested in New Zealand and the obligations then placed on the investor. We will look at the differences below but first the similarities:
• Both visa types require the investment of funds in New Zealand.
• A range of investment options are available, including growth investments which are, in the simplest explanation, investments in New Zealand companies rather than bonds.
• Both visas provide the applicant with a 12 month period to move the funds to, and initiate investment in, New Zealand.
• They also provide the option of gaining a temporary visa for the applicant and family members, allowing the applicant to work while any children are treated as domestic students (and so aren’t required to pay international school fees).
• The source of funds needs to be proved, and the funds that are to be invested need to be held by the applicant, either with or without their partner.
• The funds don’t need to be liquid, but could be the value of property, whether real estate, shares, or other liquidable assets.
• The investment must remain in place for the required investment period (discussed in further detail below), but can be moved between investments.
There are general health and character requirements, as are expected for all applicants for residence class visas in New Zealand. This will require applicants and their families to have medical tests undertaken by nominated physicians around the globe. Police certificates will also be required for the applicant and for family members 17 years of age and older from their countries of citizenship, as well as any country they have spent at least 12 months in. We have helped a number of clients who have health issues or previous immaterial convictions, so these should not be seen as automatic disqualifiers if the application is correctly handled.
This requires an investment of NZD$10m over a three year period. With the exchange rate at the time of writing, this would be equivalent to USD$5.94m. There is no age limit or English language requirements. On gaining the residency visa, the applicant would need to be in New Zealand for 44 days in each of the last two years of the investment period in order for them to gain permanent residency. If an investment of at least NZD$2.5m is made in growth investments then they will only be required to be in New Zealand for 88 days over the whole three year investment period.
Under the Investor 1 residence visa, an applicant could move their family to New Zealand, and spend less than a month a year in New Zealand themselves. This could give them peace of mind about the safety and security of their family while allowing them to continue working on businesses outside of New Zealand.
This requires an investment of NZD$3m over a four year period. With the exchange rate at the time of writing, this would be equivalent to USD$1.78m. An applicant must be no older than 65 at the time of application. This age limit does not apply to the applicant’s partner. A minimum level of proficiency in the English language is required which can be demonstrated through tests or qualifications obtained in certain countries. However, this is the lowest level of any residence class visa so it should not be difficult for applicants with a minimum level of English. There is also a requirement that applicants have at least three years of ownership or senior management experience in a business with at least five employees or an annual turnover of at least NZD$1m.
Unlike the Investor 1 residence visa, there is an additional required first step with Investor 2 residence visa, being the filing of an ‘Expression of Interest’ with Immigration New Zealand. This is the way in which migrants notify Immigration New Zealand of their desire to relocate to New Zealand. Expressions of Interest that meet Immigration New Zealand’s requirements are accepted into a pool. Immigration New Zealand then conducts a fortnightly draw from that pool, selecting only the highest ranked applicants, based on experience, age and investment amount. There are only 400 of these visas available per year, so the draw seeks only the best candidates. Immediately prior to Covid-19, every application was being drawn as too few applications were being made. We believe that this will change, meaning that the minimum investment required to gain enough points will increase.
Residence provides a right to reside in New Zealand and, as long as the investment is maintained for the required period (as outlined earlier in this article), and the applicant is in New Zealand for the minimum days, that right will become permanent. No further visas would then need to be applied for. Once a person has been a New Zealand resident for five years, they may be eligible for citizenship.
With strong connections and experience in both the technology industry and investment banking, we can assist with any investor looking to make use of this unique visa opportunity. New Zealand already holds the status as a premiere place to live. Covid-19 has only increased the appeal of living in a modern, clean and beautiful country, protected like no other.
The above overview has been provided for general information purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be treated as, legal advice and is subject to change without notice.