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CHANGES TO THE NEW ZEALAND IMMIGRATION BY INVESTMENT REGIME
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The Minister of Immigration has announced a number of policy changes which we expect will further enhance New Zealand as a destination for wealthy migrants.

Wealthy migrants to New Zealand can apply for permanent residency under a unique immigration by investment regime. There are two main categories, previously:

  • ‘Investor 1’ – under which a minimum of $10m is required to be invested.
  • ‘Investor 2’ – under which a minimum of $1.5m is required to be invested.

There are a number of additional requirements relating to matters such as time spent in New Zealand, age, health, English language competency and business experience. Many skills and qualities are weighted and assessed on a point scale system against which applications will be assessed.

The regime has been very successful to date, having generated $2.6 billion worth of investment since it was launched in 2009 with a further $2.1b pledged. However, approximately two thirds of the investments made under the regime have been placed in government bonds. The policy changes are designed to encourage ‘growth-oriented investment’ (examples being private equity, commercial property, new residential builds and managed funds) to provide greater economic benefit to New Zealand.

The following changes will take effect from May 2017:

Investor 1

The minimum investment threshold will not change from $10m, but where at least 25% of the funds are invested in growth assets the minimum time required to physically be in New Zealand can be reduced.
Under the current regime, Investor 1 migrants are required to be in New Zealand at least 44 days in each of the last 2 years of the three year investment period. Under the changes, migrants who meet the 25% growth assets threshold will be required to be in New Zealand only 88 days out of the three years.

Investor 2

While the minimum investment to qualify under the Investor 2 scheme has been raised from $1.5m to $3m, this has been compensated by the removal of the requirement to hold $1m in settlement funds throughout the application process.

If migrants invest 25% of their investment in growth assets then bonus points, priority processing and a financial discount will be available. Greater flexibility will also be given for the time required to physically be in New Zealand. Migrants will need to spend only 438 days over four years, whereas otherwise 146 days of each of years two, three and four is necessary.

Certain ‘acceptable’ philanthropic investments such as donations to registered charities and not for profit organisations may now form up to 15% of committed funds.

Under the points system, higher levels of business experience and English language skills will be better recognised and weighted accordingly.

Finally, the annual cap of approved Investor 2 migrants will be raised from 300 to 400.

Anyone who has made an application or expression of interest under the old policy when the new policy takes effect will be entitled to reapply without being charged a second application fee or losing his or her position in the application queue.

Further details of the policy are still being worked on, and are expected to be complete by the end of March 2017.

Kensington Swan is an expert in this area and acts for many wealthy migrants to New Zealand.

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Heida Donegan
Heida Donegan

Senior Counsel and Head of China Business

Auckland

+64 9 918 6213

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