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Business Immigration

Business Immigration

Immigration is currently a very hot topic. Globally, President Trump’s divisive attempted immigration ban created chaos at some airports and resulted in court action, and a successful injunction against the US Government. Closer to home there has been controversy surrounding the granting of New Zealand citizenship to Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire, the founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook.

Photo of Annette Azuma

Annette J. Azuma
Business Advice, Director, Staples Rodway Auckland

Official documents show Peter Thiel was granted citizenship under ‘exceptional circumstances’ relating to “his skills as an entrepreneur and his philanthropy”, which were deemed to be of potential benefit to New Zealanders and the country. In the end this controversy appears to be more about the perception of New Zealand immigration policy, as opposed to any wrong-doing by Peter Thiel or the New Zealand government.

Other high profile immigrants are James Cameron, Canadian filmmaker and director; and hedge fund billionaire Julian Robertson – both who have made significant contributions to New Zealand in areas of business, recreation and art. Apart from direct investment they are also able to use their network of international contacts and own personal business experience to help grow New Zealand businesses and wider business knowledge.

Many of us reading this article are immigrants ourselves or descendants of immigrants. New Zealand has a long-standing openness and reliance on foreign investment, and trying to attract wealth that can be mutually beneficial to both New Zealand and the investors. However many countries are increasingly becoming opposed to globalisation and becoming more insular.

Staples Rodway act for a number of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) who have immigrated to New Zealand or who have been granted permanent residency through the investor categories.

Factors influencing the decision of UHNWIs to choose to move to New Zealand include financial, lifestyle reasons, concern over high, sometimes punitive death duties in their home country, and recognition that New Zealand is a stable democracy in an isolated part of the world.

There are two categories: ‘Investor Plus’ requiring NZ$10 million to be invested in New Zealand for three years, and ‘Investor’ which requires NZ$1.􀀃 million to be invested in New Zealand for four years.

The table below sets outs the key criteria for both categories. In May 2017 there will be some changes to these criteria, namely:

Investor Plus

Those who invest a minimum of 25% of their funds in growth-orientated investments (currently acceptable investments except for bonds and philanthropic investment) will be permit-ted to spread the total amount of time required to be in New Zealand (88 days) over the entire three year investment term, rather than just the last two years.

Investor 2

Points are adjusted (mostly increasing) taking into consideration age, business experience and English language proficiency. A minimum investment of NZ$3million is required, and if 25% or more of those funds are invested in growth-orientated investments, bonus points are awarded. Priority is given to investors in this category, with flexibility around the amount of time required to be in New Zealand (total days remains the same). Up to 15% of investment funds can be made in acceptable philanthropic investments.

In summary, the changes indicate the New Zealand Government is seeking higher quality applicants who can invest more. Candidates from western jurisdictions where English is spoken have an advantage and there are benefits if 25% or more of the funds are not invested in passive bonds. Further details are available at


Comparing New Zealand with Australia, New Zealand offers several advantages.

Firstly, processing time is considerably shorter in New Zealand. In some cases the applications can be approved within one week.

Once investors obtain permanent residence, it lasts for life. Also there is no requirement to be in New Zealand once granted. In Australia, permanent residents who have Investor visas must apply for a resident return visa every five years.

New Zealand requirements are more straightforward, with only a central government, whereas Australian regulations can vary depending on the State the investor invests in.

Our former Prime Minister John Key has stated that one of the most rewarding achievements of his term was to reverse the ‘brain drain’ of New Zealanders to Australia. New Zealand’s generally more favourable taxation system, combined with the attractive UHNWI-positive policies has seen New Zealand gain some very talented and well connected immigrants who can positively contribute to New Zealand.

AgeNoneMaximum 65 years old
EnglishNoneIELTS 3
Health & CharacterMust meet requirementsMust meed requirements
Business ExperienceNone3 years
Investment FundsNZ$10millionNZ$1.5million
Settlement FundsNoneNZ$1million(transfer not required)
Investment Period3 years4 years
Minimum Days in NZ Required44 days per year for each of the last 2 years146 days per year for each of the last 3 years

Staples Rodway has assisted a number of clients with business immigration in both categories. If you are interested in discussing your own needs or the needs of a colleague, contact Annette Azuma on 09 373 1120 or speak with your local Staples Rodway team.

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