In March 2014, a new work visa, called the Entrepreneur – Work visa, was introduced. It aims to encourage experienced businesspeople who can grow or establish high growth and innovative businesses to relocate to New Zealand. This visa category replaced the Long-Term Business visa and requires a minimum capital investment, excluding working capital, of NZD100,000.
Applicants must score a minimum of 120 in a test that awards points for business experience, export potential, creation of employment, capital investment, age, and for the introduction of unique or new products or services to New Zealand. In addition to the points test, applicants must provide a credible business plan that outlines what they intend to do once they are in New Zealand and what they anticipate their business can achieve over the ensuing three years.
Initially, a visa (called a Start Up visa) will be granted for 12 months to allow the applicant to set up their business (or finalise the purchase of an existing business) and to transfer any remaining funds through the banking system to New Zealand. Upon completion of the start-up phase, applicants may apply for the balance of their three-year visa.
Once the business has been established for two years, and the principal applicant has been working in the business for two years, it is then possible for an application for residence to be submitted under the Entrepreneur – Residence category. The business must be trading profitably and be producing significant benefit to New Zealand. In this regard, the business must have achieved all of the benefits proposed in the business plan.
Additionally, the Entrepreneur – Residence category has a six-month option, which benefits those who make a significant investment into a business in New Zealand (new or existing) and whose business is providing a superior benefit to New Zealand.
In direct comparison to the mainstream Entrepreneur – Residence category requirements, successful applicants under this category must have invested a minimum amount (currently NZD500,000 excluding working capital) into a new or existing business and generated an additional three full-time positions for New Zealand citizens or residents in that business.
From 10 August 2020, no new applications from people located outside of New Zealand are being accepted under this category due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The suspension is set to expire on 6 February 2022; however, it is understood that any decision to lift the suspension will occur in line with the New Zealand’s government decision about New Zealand’s ongoing border closures.