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Increasing numbers of investor visa applications

Investor visa applications are increasing drastically since the COVID-19 outbreak

Radio NZ published an article (Gill Bonnett, Immigration Reporter : Covid-19: Number of investor visa applications soar since the outbreak, rnz.co.nz, 25 August 2020 ) highlighting that the number of investor visa applications has soared since the COVID-19 outbreak. The information came from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) - the government's business development agency, whose role it is to attract overseas investments. They reported a tenfold surge in interest particularly from high net worth North Americans. US citizens now account for more than half of the inquiries, followed by investors from Europe.

Seeking a safe haven in New Zealand from their coronavirus-plagued countries and economies investors are drawn to New Zealand because of its strong coronavirus strategy. This response multiplied the country's existing advantages, such as its lifestyle, location, trade deals and innovative businesses.

"New Zealand's response to COVID has definitely been noticed in other countries, and has created a window in time where interest in relocating businesses to New Zealand or investing here is higher than normal," said NZTE general manager of investment Dylan Lawrence according to RNZ.  "Where before we might field one to two approaches a month we're currently receiving about five a week. .. There's a lot of interest ….and …. money out there - the challenge is converting that interest and that money into good outcomes for New Zealand. "

Immigration figures show applications from investors with at least NZ $10 million have more than doubled since June compared to the same time a year ago. The amount of US citizens with an investment of at least NZ $3m has grown even more: the United States has become the top nationality since June 2020.

New Zealand's investor migration policies require an applicant's investment to be beneficial for the country, eg by creating jobs for New Zealanders, adding capability networks, technology, or providing access to new markets. The country offers various programs and most of them are paths to permanent residence. It appears that investors now are in a rush to proceed, and by the time they will be approved and have transferred their investment funds, the border may have re-opened.

When this will be the case remains still unknown but there are signs of hope:

  • Prior to the election on 17 October the public discussion has noticeably shifted from preventing the infection with Covid-19 to revitalising the economy.
  • Leading economists hold the view that extra quarantine capacity for ‘critical workers’ is critical (Roger Partridge, The New Zealand Initiative, 03 September 2020 ). “With firms and workers now facing the fallout from a second period of enforced lockdown in Auckland and a return to lighter restrictions country-wide, it is now critical the Government address the border bottleneck. … Businesses are also struggling to bring in critical foreign workers with niche skills not available in New Zealand. “
  • Since the current critical worker exception process has a series of shortcomings, namely the lack of quarantine capacity and also the limited prioritisation of only certain Government projects on an approved “list”. If a project is on the priority list, workers are waved through, otherwise they have to go through a time-consuming process that lacks flexibility and transparency, which makes planning for businesses difficult. Some of the suggested solutions are:
  • A user-pays system for business migrants (critical workers and New Zealand citizens who need to travel overseas for work).
  • A booking system to manage both demand and the quality of managed isolation facilities.
  • New Zealand’s largest businesses call out for urgent action, to avoid that critical overseas staff will be lost and, as a result, both the economy and employment levels will suffer (Roger Partridge, The New Zealand Initiative, 03 September 2020 ).
  • Subsequently, on 9 September,  the Government revealed that border restrictions for some resident work visa holders and partners of Kiwis will be eased.  

We expect further easements to be announced in the near future.  As soon as the borders restrictions will be lowered and its managed isolation and quarantine facilities be upscaled and utilised, the demand from investors, entrepreneurs and skilled workers from overseas will further increase.  It is therefore our recommendation at NZIC to commence with the preparations for implementing your New Zealand plans now. Please contact us and we will advise you which will be the next steps in your case.

Ask Dr. Hallwass whether you qualify for a visa that will allow you to live in New Zealand: Complete our Free Assessment form and mention your interest in attending our Investor and Business Migration Webinar.

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