New Zealand changes investor immigration scheme

16 June 2005


Foreign investors wanting to live in New Zealand will have to hand over more than $2 million to the Government under new rules announced 15 June. In other changes to the category, applicants would have to be younger than 54 and have at least five years' business experience.

Immigration Minister Paul Swain said that under the rules, starting from 4 July, investors wanting residency will have to hand over the money to the Government for five years. It would then be held by Treasury and invested in local infrastructure. The only interest paid would be the rate of inflation.

Previously, investors could put $1 million into any New Zealand investment.

Swain said several groups had found a loophole in the system, and were setting up local holding companies that investors could put their money into without New Zealanders receiving any real benefit.

A points system was used previously based on business experience, age and money. That system allowed people to compensate for low business experience, or old age with more money. The new system would select candidates with greater value to New Zealand, Swain said.

"The new policy will make sure applicants will be quality migrants with proven business experience and who will contribute to our economy and settle successfully." Health, character and English requirements remain unchanged.

About 450 people enter New Zealand under the category each year.

Opposition

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters immediately attacked the plans. The new rules were an acknowledgement that the old ones were being widely broken, but the Government had never tried to enforce them properly.

"Why don't they just toughen up the scrutiny on the current regime – because there is none at the moment.

"Asking them for $2 million and then holding on to it for five years is inexplicable."

Rather than weeding out those breaking the rules the Government was applying a harsh regime to all potential investors. That risked driving potentially genuinely valuable investors to other countries, he said.