Concern Government's investor visa change could lead New Zealand to losing billions

Plans are underway to scrap and replace two visa categories which have seen $12 billion invested in New Zealand over the last decade.

The Government claims their changes will mean Kiwi companies see more cash, but a top immigration lawyer says New Zealand could stand to lose billions in investments.

Among those who invested their way into New Zealand is Kim Dotcom, hands-down one of the most famous. 

But how he - and follow famous migrant investor Peter Thiel - got through the door is being thrown out the window.

"Ensuring that those who come into New Zealand and seek residency under this investor class actually add value to our companies, to our communities and eventually our country," said Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash.

The Government doesn't like that half of migrant investment goes directly to shares or government bonds, which is what Kim Dotcom did.

So it's scrapping the investor 1 visa which requires a $10 million investment over three years and the investor 2 - $3 million over four years.

It's replacing them with a new active investor visa requiring $5 million - 50 percent of which has to be active investments in companies - and a $15 million minimum threshold for non-active investments.

There's also now an English language test requirement.

"If you're investing in a New Zealand business, you need to be able to communicate that adds value as well."

Immigration lawyer Marcus Beverage says New Zealand may as well kiss goodbye to billions of dollars.

"I think it is killing the goose that laid the golden egg and throwing the baby out with the bathwater," he said. 

"We would anticipate that very few investors would come to New Zealand under this new regime."

National says it's not just the initial investment at stake but what migrant investors do when they're here.

"They're putting at risk another $30 billion to $45 billion over 10 years on what really is a hunch not based on any actual evidence," said immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford. 

But Nash said: "I don't think I need to speak to migrant investors at this point to understand what we need as a country to grow our business ecosystem."

The issue is that there isn't hard evidence about what migrant investors do when they get here and the Government says these changes will ensure Kiwi businesses benefit.

But the gamble is putting investors off entirely.