Immigration advisor says visa requirements a 'nightmare' as investor applications plunge

An immigration advisor has slammed changes to the investor visa targeted at the ultra-wealthy saying it's "nonsense" after a report showed interest in it is dwindling. 

The Active Investor Plus visa, aimed at luring high-net-worth individuals who can pour millions of dollars into companies in New Zealand, has attracted just 14 applications since the changes were launched about six months ago, according to a Bloomberg report. 

That compares to 492 applicants before the rules were tightened to require bigger sums of money and rule out investing in real estate.

Immigration New Zealand said the changes came after the previous settings facilitated passive investments.

"This system has a minimum investment threshold of $15 million NZD or weighted equivalent. This means that applicants who want to make acceptable direct investments will be eligible with $5 million NZD," Immigration New Zealand's website says. 

The old scheme required a $10m investment, but it could be placed in very low-risk investments, like government bonds.

Immigration advisor Tuariki Delamere hit out at the new visa saying investors are more likely to go to overseas countries. 

"I wouldn't call it the active investor policy, I would call it the inactive investor policy. To be honest, it's a load of nonsense when you compare our policy to Australia, Canada, the USA and Great Britain, why would you bother?" Delamere told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green.

"They want $15 million, Great Britain £2 million, Australia $1.5 million dollars. Canada under $1m, the USA just over $1m and also we require them to speak English at level five, which immediately cancels just about every Asian potential investor. It’s the anti-Asian investment policy." 

Delamere disagreed with the requirement of people needing to speak English to obtain the new visa saying investors can find ways to manage without speaking the language.

"One of my clients came in many years ago, still doesn't speak English. He's paid over $10 million in taxes on his company. When he needs English, he has an interpreter. He's wealthy. He can afford to do that," he said. 

"Immigration New Zealand says we require English so these people can transfer their knowledge of what they've learnt, their experience to New Zealanders. Well, if that's the case, how come you only required them to spend 29 days a year in New Zealand?"

The requirement of the visa states that "investor migrants will need to spend at least 117 days in New Zealand over the four-year investment period", according to Immigration New Zealand. 

Immigration advisor Tuariki Delamere.
Immigration advisor Tuariki Delamere. Photo credit: AM

Delamere believes the current rules are a "nightmare" and are putting potential investors off coming to New Zealand. 

"Wealthy investors who can contribute to New Zealand, who would like to move to New Zealand, but they look at the rules, it is just a nightmare," he told AM. 

"I challenge Michael Wood. Michael, you sit here, you come into this programme and explain how that policy works, I bet you can't do it." 

The granting of visas to ultra-wealthy investors has been controversial in the past.

Tech billionaire and PayPal founder Peter Thiel was granted citizenship in 2011 despite having spent only 12 days in the country in the five years preceding his application.

In 2021, Google founder and New Zealand resident Larry Page made headlines when he entered New Zealand, accompanying a sick child, while the country's border was closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He went on to request an accommodation "upgrade" while in quarantine.

Watch the full interview with Tuariki Delamere in the video above.