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The Ultimate Guide to Investing In New Zealand: NZ Investor Visa Pathways

Employment Visa New Zealand Immigration Advisers

If you have the capital to invest in New Zealand and can meet Immigration NZ's character and health requirements, there are new NZ visa options. Several immigration pathways can help you enter the country and business environment, specifically within the investor visa space.

New Zealand investor visas promote investment-based immigration opportunities for individuals and their families. Rather than following a work-to-residence pathway, investment visas can also provide ways to residency.

We have some advice on different investor visa options and updates about policy changes from Immigration New Zealand. From the newctive Investor Visa to NZ acceptable direct investment changes, keep reading to learn more about the new visa settings.

Why Invest In New Zealand?

New Zealand is a desirable country for migrants wanting to invest. The country has a stable political structure, an innovative approach and is business-friendly nationwide.

With New Zealand re-opening to the world after NZ closed its borders in 2020, the country has started to welcome back people with business experience and expertise. The Government's commitment to economic freedom has resulted in impressive economic resilience. 

Even more, the rebound has led to a long-term drive for diversification, as the economy has flourishing agricultural and manufacturing sectors. In addition, New Zealand is rebuilding its thriving tourism industry with a solid renewable energy resource base.

The Place For Tech 

The tech growth and investment opportunities in New Zealand continue to grow, with the future leaning increasingly toward new and innovative sub-sectors.

In the country, SaaS, Greentech, Agritech, Healthtech and Fintech are identified as areas with the greatest potential for investment growth. Spacetech is also listed many times as gaining growth potential, with some thanks to Rocket Lab's success. 

Below are some examples of well-known companies within the tech industry that started in New Zealand.

  • Xero -  SaaS
  • Pushpay - SaaS
  • Vesta - SaaS
  • Vend - SaaS
  • Invencto - Fintech
  • Douglas Pharmaceuticals - Healthtech
  • Rocket Lab - Spacetech

Where Companies Blossom

New Zealand's tech sector punches well above its weight for what's expected from our small country. We have a reputation for producing a line of innovative, quality companies, and the statistics reflect it.

  • Over twenty thousand (21,870) tech companies are in New Zealand's tech sector.*
  • In 2020, NZ tech companies generated NZ$12.7 billion in revenue, including NZ$9.36 billion from exports (10.60% growth).**
  • 11th in the world for entrepreneurial culture.***
  • Close to two thousand (1,686) startups tracked across stages and sectors.****

An Economy That Is Stable

New Zealand's economy is stable and reputable. As nations and investors trust us, it is easy to do business with us safely. Here are a few statistics to help you understand why New Zealand is considered to have a stable economy.

  • New Zealand is ranked 3rd out of 180 nations for Economic Freedom.*****
  • New Zealand ranks 1st in the world for ease of doing business.******
  • New Zealand ranks 1st in the world for starting a business.*******

Safety For All People

  • New Zealand is ranked the 2nd most peaceful country in the world.********

What Investments Are Acceptable for Investor Visa NZ?

The New Zealand government has structured the new acceptable investment criteria to ensure economic growth for the country's future. Several ways of investing in New Zealand through direct and indirect investments allow for a pathway to residency. Within the visa process, these investments are termed ‘acceptable investments’. 

The Difference Between Direct & Indirect Investments

Direct investment is when an applicant invests money into a specific New Zealand company or multiple companies.

Indirect investment is a form of investment through the purchase of shares, share certificates, bonds, other valuable papers or a securities investment fund and through other intermediary financial institutions such as managed funds or venture funds whereby investors do not directly participate in the management of investment activities.  

Acceptable Investment Options

Acceptable investments carry different weightings towards the NZ$5 million to NZ$15 million investment threshold. Investors may be able to invest across a combination to meet the threshold.

Acceptable Direct Investments

An acceptable direct investment is when the applicant meets the Immigration NZ requirements and invests in the following:

  • Listed equities that are considered an acceptable investment as set out in Immigration New Zealand instructions, reference BN7.10.1(a), as a wholesale investor; or
  • An equity security in an investee entity; or
  • A financial product will be converted or may become convertible into an equity security in an investee entity.

As part of the conditions, the NZTE must confirm that either the applicant is investing in acceptable listed equities that were pre-approved by NZTE before funds were invested or that the investee entity is an acceptable direct investment. 

Direct investments into private businesses receive the highest weighting (3x). For example, you can meet the required amount by investing NZ$5 million into direct investments.

Acceptable Managed Funds

For investments in managed funds to be considered acceptable, the investment must be in either:

  • The managed investment products issued by a managed investment scheme which is on the acceptable managed fund list maintained by NZTE; or
  • A discretionary investment management service on the acceptable managed fund list maintained by NZTE.

Managed Fund companies must also be registered New Zealand entities. Investments in managed funds such as private equity or venture capital are upweighted (2x). For example, you can meet the required amount by investing NZ$7.5 million into private funds.

Acceptable Listed Equity

For an investment in listed equities to be considered acceptable, the funds must be invested directly or through an exchange-traded or managed fund. A traded or managed fund must be handled by someone that is licensed by the Financial Markets Authority to provide that service in the equities of a New Zealand resident entity that:

  • Is listed by a market operator licensed by the Financial Markets Authority; or
  • Are offered through a crowdfunding provider licensed by the Financial Markets Authority; and
  • Is not engaged in the acquisition, ownership, leasing, management, and operation of commercial or residential property development except if the below applies.

Equities in entities engaged in the acquisition, development, ownership, leasing, management and operation of property assets, which are held through an exchange-traded fund or managed fund, may be counted towards the principal applicant's investment in listed equities provided they comprise no more than 20 per cent of the value of the total assets held by the fund.

Investments into listed equities receive no additional weighting. They are also capped at 50% of the NZ$15 million investment requirement. For example, you can meet the required amount by putting NZ$7.5 million into listed equities and NZ$7.5 million into eligible philanthropic causes or a mixture of direct investments or managed funds.

Holding Investments

After an application is approved in principle, applicants have six months to make a minimum initial investment and invest the rest of the funds in holding or other acceptable investments. The acceptable holding investments are:

  • Bonds issued by the New Zealand government or local authority; or
  • A term deposit with a New Zealand-registered bank; or
  • Deposits in a New Zealand registered bank.

Funds invested in a holding investment must be in the applicant's name, remain separate from any other funds and are not for personal use. They should only be withdrawn to make an acceptable investment.

The total value of holding investments must be at least NZ$15 million or the weighted equivalent. 

Why Have the NZ Investor Visa Options Changed?

The Government actively seeks to attract successful entrepreneurs, business people and investors willing to invest in the New Zealand economy. 

The Government is implementing changes to the NZ immigration system as part of the rebalancing process following the pandemic's effects. These changes include reducing skill shortages and boosting the economy, which is approached through various work, investment and residency visa changes.

The Government’s rebalancing of New Zealand's immigration system intends to increase New Zealand's business productivity and increase the amount of highly skilled workers to support our economy's growth. 

Streamlined Immigration New Zealand System

The NZ government is streamlining the immigration rules for overseas investors following the long-awaited launch of the new Accredited Employer Work Visa program in July 2022, which replaced several work visa applications.

Changes are being made to help improve and grow New Zealand economically and socially. The streamlined process places New Zealand's growth as its top priority. This includes taking action to develop the New Zealand economy's productivity and improve business resilience. 

The Government aims to create more value and increase New Zealand's productivity by:

  • Advocating for businesses to increase their investment in new business models and labour-saving technology, where appropriate
  • Encouraging New Zealand firms to invest more in worker training, upskilling, and career development
  • Supporting upfront investments that will pay dividends in the future

Attract High-Value Investors From Overseas

The NZ government aims to attract experienced, high-value investors to bring more growth opportunities to New Zealand. This is in line with the Government's policy of supporting local businesses and regions in New Zealand as they recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The New Zealand government has introduced a new visa program for high-value investors to replace the existing Investor 1 and Investor 2 visa categories, starting 19 September 2022

Applicants must provide at least $15 million New Zealand Dollars as an investment (or weighted equivalent and  meet other requirements to be eligible for the new visa. The Government has stopped accepting applications for Investor 1 and Investor 2 visas.

Generate High-Skilled Jobs

INZ changes to the visa system spread across all sectors. For example, the country is experiencing a record low in employment, so overseas workers are now in high demand by NZ employers. INZ's reason for implementing the new employer accreditation scheme is to enable employers to promote job vacancies overseas and, for key sectors, prioritise the migrant’s pathway to residency.

The new Active Investment changes aim to generate more high-skilled jobs and economic growth while also leveraging the skills of migrant investors, who will bring access to global networks and markets to help Kiwi companies grow faster and more successfully.

Read more about the Government's approach to the immigration NZ process and how the immigration rebalance impacts NZ employers hiring overseas workers here.

What is the New Active Investor Plus Visa?

The introduction of the Active Investor Plus Visa aims to attract experienced, high-value investors that bring opportunities for growth to New Zealand businesses. This visa category opened on 19 September 2022.

The Active Investor Plus Visa's main changes include the following:

  • New minimum direct investment requirement of $5 million.
  • Greater economic benefit to New Zealand companies by capping passive investment in listed equities to 50% and excluding bonds and property.

At a high level, the visa requires investors to:

  • Invest between NZ$5 million and NZ$15 million. This is dependent on the type of investment they are making
  • Fully Invest within  three years and maintain the investment for the fourth year.
  • Spend 117 days in New Zealand during the four-year visa period.
  • Be competent in the English language.

What Does This Mean for the Discontinued Investor Visas?

The new Active Investor Plus visa category replaces two existing categories, Investor 1 and Investor 2. While these visas are discontinued, the Government remains focused on attracting investors, ideators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. 

NZ continues to provide various avenues for innovative businesses and talented business people in the country. As a result, the Government has outlined specific immigration pathways to attract those eligible to migrate to New Zealand.

Investor Plus Visa (Category 1)

Previously, the applicant had to meet the following criteria:

  • Have NZ$10 million to invest in NZ.
  • Prove investment $ lawfully earned.
  • Be of good health and character.
  • Hold investment in NZ for three years.

Investor Two Resident Visa

Previously, the applicant had to meet the following criteria:

  • Be under 66 years of age.
  • Speak English to a basic standard.
  • Be of good health and character.
  • Prove three years of business experience.
  • Show a net worth of NZ$3 million or more.
  • Have NZ$3 million to invest in NZ.
  • Prove investment $ lawfully earned.
  • Hold Investment in NZ for four years.

Get Professional Investor Visa NZ Advice

If you want to understand more about NZ's immigration new visa changes and how they may impact you, get in touch with Malcolm Pacific Immigration.

Results speak much louder than words. We have directly helped thousands of investors and their families secure Permanent Residence Visas leading to over $15 billion in the New Zealand economy.

Our experienced licensed immigration advisers provide expert advice on all parts of the immigration process, including investor visas and residence pathways.

When you choose to make your life or investments in New Zealand, it is imperative that you can trust your adviser. We invest the time at the outset to get to know you, your family and your goals to make sure you will qualify. We are the best at what we do and will always stand behind what we say.

Get in touch with us today!

Sources

*NZTech Annual Report 2020.

**2020 TIN Report.

***Global Competitiveness Report 2019.

****Callaghan Innovation Scale Up NZ project

*****The Heritage Foundation (2021).

******World Bank (2020).

*******Global Competitiveness Report (2019).

********2021 Global Peace Index.

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