New Zealand Residency | How to become a New Zealand resident
How to become a New Zealand Resident as an Investor
This article will cover how to become a New Zealand resident investing or starting a business. We will first look at the general requirements for each, and then deep dive into Investor and Entrepreneur Categories.
When you are looking to become a New Zealand resident as an entrepreneur or investor – they essentially provide 2 paths – one for Entrepreneurs and another for investors. Within each of these paths, there are two tiers: Investor and Investor Plus, and Entrepreneur and Entrepreneur Plus.
- Start or Purchase a business in NZ
- Be self-employed in the business for Two years
- The business benefits NZ significantly
- Start or Purchase a business in NZ
- Invest 0.5 NZD Million in an approved business
- The business benefits NZ significantly
- must be aged 65 or younger
- 3 years business experience
- invest at least NZ$1.5 million
- expression of interest (EOI) form
- demonstrate eligibility for points under the various criteria
Everyone included in your residence application will have to meet our health, character, and English language requirements.
Note that the government approves a maximum of 300 residence applications per year under the Investor Category, so it may be wise to apply under the investor plus category if one has the financial capability to do so.
- Age 65 or younger
- 3 years business experience
- EOI form not needed
- investor criteria of at least NZ$10 million
The rest of this article will delve deeper into these specific pathways including citizenship by investment into a farming investment under the investor plus category.
If you want the quickest pathway to citizenship for your self and your family, you should consider investing at least NZ$10 million in New Zealand, and you would like to apply for New Zealand residence, the Investor Plus category could be the best option for you.
There isn’t a need to submit an EOI form. If you have NZ$10M – you can submit an application directly.
You can bring along family members, and others who are included in your residence application, as long as they meet the health and character requirements. Note that there isn’t a need for English language requirement under investor plus.
Case Study: Investment in Farmland
The steps covered in this case study to become a New Zealand resident are as follows:
- Scout Investment
- Submit Application
- Approval in Principle (AIP)
- Proof of Wealth
- Residence Approved
- Deploy Capital Into Investment
Investor wants to deploy 10 million into NZ for his family – start a farm.
1: Scout Investment
Investment Objective: organic farm based around sustainable agriculture practices that are environmentally friendly.
There are several sites that can help you start out when looking from abroad. I have a few contacts on the ground in New Zealand if you are serious about this type of investment.
The Farmland will need to receive a special qualification if the property is considered “sensitive land”. If the application is for sensitive land, then these are the application fees.
You’ll have to speak with the real estate agent directly to determine if the property is designated as “sensitive land”.
One of the 3 of these need to be paid (only under sensitive land applications):
- consent for a land transaction decided by the relevant Ministers – $22,488.89 or
- consent for a land transaction decided by the Regulator (OIO) under delegation – $19,524.44 or
- consent for significant business assets transaction decided by the Regulator under delegation – $13,186.67.
2: Submit Application
The application is fairly in-depth, but not as much as for a citizenship application in St. Kitts or Dominica. The Application can be downloaded here, and is fairly self-explanatory. Friends of mine who have gone through the application process to become a New Zealand resident successfully have stated there is no need for a lawyer.
3: Proof of Wealth
Evidence – through verifiable documents (tax returns, bank statements, audited financials are all good measures) must provide evidence to show that these funds and/or assets:
- are owned by you or jointly by you, your partner and/or dependent children
- do not face an encumbrance such as a mortgage, lien, charge, or claim
- have been earned or acquired legally
- are transferable through a banking system
This burden should be rather easy to meet assuming the funds are derived from legitimate sources.
Investment funds and/or assets must be:
- owned by you or jointly by you, your partner and/or dependent children
- These cannot be unencumbered, or subject to any mortgage, lien, charge or other creditor claims
- have been earned or acquired legally
- are transferable through the banking system, or a foreign exchange company that uses the banking system.
Things to watch You can NOT use these funds for personal reasons, such as a personal residence, or car, or boat. Must provide satisfactory evidence of the following:
- the nominated investment funds have been transferred to the foreign exchange company directly from your bank account(s), and
- the nominated investment funds have not been transferred through the foreign exchange company contrary to the laws of New Zealand, and
- nominated investment funds transferred are traceable, and
- cash transactions were not made, and
- the foreign exchange company is not suspected of or proven to have committed fraudulent activity or financial impropriety in any country it operates from or in.
4: Approval in Principle
You and your family need to come to New Zealand within 12 months of being granted a resident visa, or yours and their residence will lapse.
Residence character requirements
You will most likely NOT be eligible to become a New Zealand resident if you were:
- convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 5 years or more
- in the past 10 years, you were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more
- you are subject to a period of prohibition on entry to New Zealand under section 179 or 180 of the Immigration Act 2009
- you have been deported or removed from New Zealand under any enactment
- you are excluded from New Zealand under any enactment
- you have, at any time, been removed, excluded, or deported from another country
- you have been involved in terrorist activities, or belonged to or supported any organization involved in terrorist activities
- it is believed you are likely to commit – or to assist others to commit – criminal or drug offenses, or an act of terrorism, in New Zealand
- it is believed you are likely – due to any international circumstances – to be a danger to New Zealand’s security or public order
- it is believed you are associated with an organization or group that has criminal objectives or is engaged in criminal activities and for that – or any other reason – you’re considered to be a threat to the public interest or public order of New Zealand.
(The above is taken directly from the NZ government website and is reliable, but may not be kept up to date.)
If you’re invited to apply for residence and become a New Zealand resident you’ll have to provide police certificates as evidence of your good character. We need to see certificates for everyone 17 years and over included in your application. We need certificates from:
- your country of citizenship and
- any country you’ve been in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years, whether in one or more visits.
In some cases, we may request the certificates before inviting you to apply for residence.
After AIP, the investor has one year to transfer funds and invest into acceptable investment in New Zealand. However, the government is flexible and you can apply to have this time-frame extended.
You can also apply for a work visa so you can travel to New Zealand to look into investment opportunities. You will need to retain your investment funds in acceptable investments for three years.
Obtaining a long-term business visa is the first step in the Entrepreneur category.
To become a New Zealand resident under this category, you must (at minimum):
- hold a long-term business visa
- health requirements
- character requirements,
- have successfully established or purchased a business in New Zealand
- have been ‘self-employed’ in that business
- have invested at least NZ$0.5 million in the business, and
- have created a minimum of three new full-time jobs for New Zealand citizens or residents.
- introduced new, or enhance existing, technology, management, technical skills, products, or services
- created new, or significantly expanded existing, export markets
- created sustained and on-going full-time employment for New Zealand citizens or residents, or
- revitalized an existing New Zealand business and has led to a significantly increased financial performance.
A business plant which demonstrates you understand the New Zealand business environment, and as well as details regarding how your venture will significantly benefit NZ.
9 Month Visa Granted
After visa approval, you will initially be granted a nine-month interim work visa. The purpose is to take the necessary steps to establish your business and commence the business operation as per your business proposal.
Additional 3 Years
A further work visa may be granted for the balance of the three-year period (27 months) if you apply within the validity of the interim work visa and a business immigration specialist is satisfied that:
- the investment capital for the proposed business, as stated in the business plan, has been transferred directly from your own bank account(s) through the banking system to New Zealand; and
- reasonable steps have been taken to establish or invest in the business as set out in your approved business plan.
New Zealand has an excellent healthcare system and is understandably concerned that new residents might place an undue burden on the system. Therefore the health check is fairly robust.
For full details on health requirements, see these helpful government PDFs:
- Health Requirements Leaflet (NZIS 1121) PDF
- General Medical Certificate (INZ 1007) PDF
- Chest X-ray Certificate (INZ 1096) PDF
Partners and dependent children may be asked to submit the Limited Medical Certificate (INZ1201) rather than a General Medical Certificate (INZ1007) this is a much more limited check.
Flowchart for Entrepreneurs
You must show that everyone included in the application meets our health requirements by submitting a completed medical and chest x-ray certificate.
You must show that everyone included in the application who is aged 17 or more meets our character requirements by providing police certificates from their country or countries of citizenship, and all countries they have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years. This includes countries where the stay has been broken by short departures. See information on how to get a police certificate.
3: Evidence of your partnership
If your partner is applying on your application form too, you need to show that you have been living together in a genuine and stable relationship for at least 12 months. The evidence you live together might include original or certified copies of documents showing shared accommodation – such as joint ownership of residential property, joint tenancy agreement, or correspondence (including postmarked envelopes) addressed to both you and your partner at the same address.
4: Evidence of business
All documents submitted to prove that you have established a business in New Zealand must be produced by a reliable independent agency or professional (for example, a solicitor or chartered accountant). The evidence you need to provide to show that you have established and been self-employed in a business in New Zealand may include (but is not limited to):
- a certificate of incorporation or business registration
- shareholder certificates or proof of ownership of the business
- a business purchase agreement
- company financial accounts and bank statements
- company tax returns
- GST returns
- documents showing property lease or purchase by the business
- invoices for business equipment, supplies, ACC, utility bills
- photos of the business
- strategic planning documents.
You should provide a range of documents over a period of at least two years.
5: Business benefits NZ
The evidence you need to provide to show that your business is benefiting New Zealand could include:
- employment records such as IRD PAYE monthly schedules
- financial statements for the business
- export/import documents
- tax records.
Evidence that your business meets New Zealand employment and immigration law. You will need to have documents that show us you meet these requirements, such as documents proving you are:
- paying employees no less than the correct minimum wages
- meeting holiday and special leave requirements and looking after the health and safety of your employees
- only employ people who are legally able to undertake that work in New Zealand.
We may verify your documents to check that you meet the requirements. We may also visit your business or arrange for another person to visit.
6: English Competency
All applicants must:
- have an English speaking background, or
- be a competent user of English, or
- have an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate
The investment funds and/or assets you nominate must be equivalent to at least NZ$1.5 million, though you may nominate more, depending on the points claimed in your EOI.
In addition, you need to own settlement funds and/or assets of at least NZ$1 million. In your residence application, you will need to provide evidence showing that your investment and settlement funds and/or assets are owned by you or jointly by you and your partner and/or dependent children.
Everyone applying must provide:
- two passport-size photographs
- photocopies of the identity pages of their passport
- a full birth certificate (that is, one showing the names of both parents).
Ongoing Time in NZ?
How Much Time Is Necessary to Spend in the country to become a New Zealand resident.
You will have to spend at least 44 days in New Zealand each year in years two and three of your three-year investment period.
After residence is approved AIP you have 12 months to transfer and invest in NZ. You need to retain your investment funds in acceptable investments for three years. You will have to spend at least 44 days in New Zealand each year in years two and three of your three-year investment period. After residence is granted, for each year (excluding the first year) of your investment period you’ll need to spend this amount of time in New Zealand:
- Investor – 40 percent of each of the final three years of the four-year investment period (146 days per year)
- Investor Plus – 12 percent of each of the final two years of the three-year investment period (44 days per year).
How long is the visa valid?
12 months from the date of issue.
How long can I stay in New Zealand?
Once you are issued a resident visa, you and your family can stay in New Zealand indefinitely.
If I leave NZ can I re-enter as a resident?
The visa travel conditions will allow you to travel to and from New Zealand during the two-year period. You will need to meet requirements for a permanent resident visa (easier under the investor scheme) if you would like to travel to and from New Zealand after that.
Your next step may be to become a New Zealand citizen, which is handled by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).
No, age restrictions apply to the Entrepreneur Category to become a New Zealand resident. Primary investors (head of household) must be younger than 65.
Purchase existing business?
Purchase at least a 25 percent shareholding of a business, or establish an entirely new business.
How do I apply?
Send the application directly to the Business Migration Branch at:
Business Migration Branch PO Box 3705 Wellington New Zealand
The government recommends to keep a copy of your entire application and send the original with supporting documents to us by secure registered courier or registered post.
New Zealand is by no means the only option for residency and citizenship abroad. For a full list of countries where residency is possible, consider joining the FT Intel Society or check our second passport and residency comparison tool.