We are regarded as the leading investment and business based visa service provider in New Zealand. This is based on ability and the full value we bring to these transactions. We don’t just advise on the visa requirements, we package the full value of our firm’s ability to advise on all associated legal aspects of investing and doing business here in a combined service offering that leads the market.
Active Investor Plus Visa
Our firm has developed a reputation both in the private and public sector as the leading counsel on active investment/business-based visa products. We have worked with both sectors in offshore markets to identify and provide our high-value service product to high-net-worth investors and successful business operators from a range of international jurisdictions.
In addition to providing a full encompassing service that includes immigration, mergers and acquisitions, commercial, general property and overseas investment advice, we have a long and successful track record negotiating bespoke visa solutions with the New Zealand Government where standard requirements do not fit the need of the particular investor. We understand where the line is drawn between standard policies and where a tailored solution can be negotiated successfully to meet the objectives of both our client and the New Zealand Government.
The previous Investor Plus (Investor 1) and Investor 2 investment categories closed on 27 July 2022. They will be replaced by a new Active Investor Plus visa category that will be able to receive applications from 19 September 2022.
The preliminary details of this new category are as follows:
- ‘Investment recognition’ of $15 million required over a four-year term, with the actual investment amount varying between $5 million and $15 million, depending on the composition of the investments. Certain more active/risky investments are recognised at two and three times their actual dollar value, to encourage these investments. The exact investment amount is dictated by the investor’s combination of investment using the following weightings:
- NZX listed (NZ domiciled) equities at 1x (to a maximum of 50% – $7.5 million);
- Philanthropy at 1x – same criteria as the existing policy (to a maximum of 50% – $7.5 million);
- Managed Funds (venture capital and private equity) at 2x; and
- Direct investments into NZ companies at 3x (must be approved by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE)).
- Physical presence requirement of 117 days over the four-year investment term.
- English language requirement of IELTS 5.0 (outside being able to demonstrate an acceptable English-speaking background).
Investments in bonds, most commercial property and residential property development (for example) are no longer acceptable.
To illustrate the weighting position, here are two examples of compliant applications:
- Direct investment of $5 million in a company acceptable to NZTE (weighting of $5million x 3 = $15 million ‘recognition’, but actual investment amount is only $5 million).
- NZX investment of $5 million, philanthropy ‘investment’ of $5 million and venture capital commitment of $2.5 million (weighting of $5 million x 1 + $5 million x 1 + $2.5 million x 2 = $15 million ‘recognition’, but actual investment amount is only $12.5 million).
More details of this new category will be provided once they become available.
Physical presence requirement – tax
While the physical presence requirement does not appear onerous and the grant of a resident visa will not automatically trigger tax residence status in New Zealand, it will be important for any individual who holds significant business assets and anticipates receiving overseas income (especially overseas income post the initial four year residency period) to receive very good taxation advice both in their current country of residence and New Zealand before submitting an application.
Having an ability to legally manage tax liability including the New Zealand Inland Revenue “permanent place of abode” test will be important to a number of investors, however, for those choosing to only spend around a month in New Zealand per year (as required over the four-year investment term), it is highly unlikely you will become a New Zealand tax resident.
Entrepreneur Work Visa
We have assisted numerous migrants to secure an Entrepreneur Work Visa (EWV), and more importantly, transition those clients into a position to qualify for New Zealand residency under the Entrepreneur Residence Category.
Many migrants (and/or their initial immigration advisers) have made the mistake at the first stage of the process of concentrating on securing the initial EMV only. The focus point should be the requirements of the residency application at a later stage, and the contents of the EWV then backfilled to ensure eventual residence eligibility by the preparation of well thought through and conservative business plan at EWV stage; that should be prepared by a New Zealand based Chartered Accountant.
The EWV category allows an individual to either purchase or establish a new business in New Zealand, and operate their business successfully for a certain period of time before being able to qualify for New Zealand residence. In order to obtain a EWV, a number of requirements need to be proven by an applicant, including the following:
- They intend to invest a minimum amount of NZ$100,000 as capital investment, excluding working capital.
- They have been awarded a minimum of 120 points based on defined eligibility criteria (refer below).
- They hold an appropriate business plan specific to their proposed business/venture.
- They have obtained professional or occupational registration within New Zealand if that is required for lawful operation of their business.
- They meet the “fit and proper” person test.
- They have not been involved with bankruptcy or business failure within the five years proceeding the date that the application is made.
- They have not been involved in business fraud or financial impropriety at any stage.
- In addition to investment capital they are able to demonstrate they have sufficient funds to finance their business and provide for their maintenance and accommodation of all applicants included in the application, for the duration of the EWV (3 years).
- They have sufficient business experience relevant to their business proposal.
They have a genuine intent to establish the business described in their business plan.
- They meet the English language requirement (e.g. an average (General) overall band score of 4.0 in an IELTS examination).
- The proposed business will not constitute an unacceptable risk to New Zealand laws or policies.
In relation to meeting the minimum point requirement of 120, the following table of points has been introduced by Immigration New Zealand, which in combination with the requirements set out above represent the full eligibility criteria. It is very important to note however that in addition to the basic narration below in terms of the points provided for each particular area, there are quite strict rules and regulations governing the eligibility of an applicant to claim the particular points specified. For example, in relation to ‘senior management experience related to business proposal’ that means senior in line management experience at a very high level in a company that employed at least 5 full time employees or had an annual turnover of at least NZ$1,000,000 per year. There are therefore fine requirements and detail that applies to each of the above and following requirements for eligibility, therefore this truly is a category where professional advice and assistance is highly recommended.
Here therefore is the points table to allow you to determine whether you may be able to claim the 120 points required in order to qualify:
Points for Business Experience
(can be awarded in only one category)
|Self employment relevant to business proposal|
|10 years +|| 40|
|5 years +|| 30|
|3 years +|| 20|
|Other self employment|
|10 years +|| 20|
|5 years +|| 15|
|3 years +|| 5|
|Senior management experience relevant to business proposal|
|10 years +|| 10|
|5 years +|| 5|
Points for Benefit to New Zealand
(can be awarded in up to two categories)
|New full time employment creation|
|10+ new full time positions for New Zealand citizens or residents|| 80|
|5 or more new full time positions for New Zealand citizens or residents|| 50|
|3 or more new full time positions for New Zealand citizens or residents|| 30|
|2 new full time positions for New Zealand citizens or residents|| 20|
|1 new full time position for New Zealand citizen or resident|| 10|
|Points for approved export businesses (based on annual turnover)|
|$1,000,000 + turnover a year|| 80|
|$750,000 + turnover a year|| 60|
|$500,000 + turnover a year|| 40|
|$400,000 + turnover a year|| 30|
|$300,000 + turnover a year|| 20|
|$200,000 + turnover a year|| 10|
|Points for unique or new products or services to New Zealand|
|A credible business proposal that provides unique or new products/services to New Zealand, or to a particular region|| 30|
Points for Capital Investment
(excluding working capital)
|$1,000,000 +|| 80|
|$750,000 +|| 60|
|$500,000 +|| 50|
|$400,000 +|| 30|
|$300,000 +|| 20|
|$200,000 +|| 10|
|Under $200,000|| 0|
Points for age of prospective applicant
(at date of lodging application)
|24 and under|| 15|
|60 and over|| 0|
|Regional bonus points|
|Business based outside Auckland|| 40|
This is a strict policy that has significant caveats to the above eligibility criteria. In addition, which is also very important, is the stated objective of the policy, which simply put is to facilitate high growth businesses, and/or innovative businesses, and/or businesses with export potential. If a business transaction will meet the qualify points criteria, it can still be declined if it cannot meet one of the stated objectives of the policy, which as you will note is very subjective.
If you are contemplating submitting an application for an EWV seek professional advice from a New Zealand lawyer who is extensively experienced in these types of applications. A lot of our work in this area is trying to fix matters that have not been appropriately prepared or thought through at an early stage of the EWV process.
Entrepreneur Residence Category
There are two ways to qualify for residence under this Category. First, an applicant can demonstrate that they have established their business in line with their original business plan (including the claims made for benefit to New Zealand as stated in their plan), have operated the business for a minimum of two years, and the business is profitable as at the date the application is submitted or is capable of generating a profit within 12 months of submission of the application. In relation to profitability, this has been defined as a business demonstrating that the turnover of the business matches the turnover specified in the prior business plan, and the business is at least generating a minimum wage income to the main applicant specified in the prior application.
The second way to secure New Zealand residence under the ER Category is to demonstrate that an individual has established their plan in line with the original plan submitted in their prior application, they have operated the business in New Zealand for a period of 6 months, have invested at least NZ$500,000 into the business (business capital), and have created at least 3 on going and sustainable full time employment positions for New Zealand citizens or residents.
While the ER Category criteria seems relatively simple, the important point to make here is that if there is any inconsistency with the business that has eventuated as compared to the business plan specified to Immigration New Zealand to secure the prior EWV, then this can create quite significant eligibility issues to convert to New Zealand residence under the ER Category. It is important therefore for individuals to receive very good advice and assistance right from commencement of this process. That is because under the current residence category policy, applicants will be expected to demonstrate they have met the criteria set out in their initial business plan. Applicants or their advisers who have overstated the importance of their proposed business (to secure an EWV) could run the risk of the applicant not being able to demonstrate they have met their proposed business plan, and therefore not qualify for residency under the ER Category. It is very important therefore that business plans under EWV applications are not embellished to meet the policy criteria to secure the EWV, because such inflation of the benefits to New Zealand (for example) justifying the grant of the EWV may lead to a situation where the applicant is not able to actually convert to New Zealand residence later for failure to meet their promise, which is of course the main aim in this two stage process.