If you have been running a business in New Zealand successfully over a certain period of time while holding an appropriate visa which allows you to do so, then you may be eligible to apply for residence under the Entrepreneur Residence Visa Category.
You will need to apply under either ' Entrepreneur Residence (6 months)' or ' Entrepreneur Residence (2 years)'. The key difference between the two is that the former allows you to apply for residence as early as six months into your business trading, and the latter having to run the business for at least two years before being able to apply.
However, if approved under ' Entrepreneur Residence (6 months)', you will be issued with a conditional residence visa and you will be required to continue to meet the requirements of this category for two years. When the conditions have been met, you will then be able to have the conditions removed from the visa.
You will need to satisfy each of the following requirements:
- meet general requirements; and
- meet English language requirements; and
- meet business requirements; and
- meet investment requirements; and
- meet minimum time requirements; and
- meet benefit requirements.
Let's take a look at each in turn.
General requirements include paying correct application fee, using prescribed Immigration New Zealand form, meeting health/character requirements, and being a 'bona fide' (genuine) applicant. There is no age limit with this category.
English language requirements
You, your partner and your dependent children aged 16 years or over will need to provide evidence to show that you have English proficiency equivalent to an IELTS exam score of at least 4.0. Partners and dependent children have the option of pre-purchasing ESOL training if they are unable to meet the English language requirement.
You must have established, purchased or have taken at least 25% shareholding in a business operating in New Zealand, as per your business plan, and have achieved the goals set in the plan. Be aware that if you have deviated from the business plan without Immigration New Zealand's approval, your application is likely to fail.
If you are applying under Entrepreneur Residence (6 months), you must have invested at least NZ$500,000 (about US$390,000) in the business (excluding working capital), and if you are applying under Entrepreneur Residence (2 years), you must have invested at least NZ$100,000 (about US$78,000) in the business (excluding working capital).
Minimum time requirements
If you are applying under Entrepreneur Residence (6 months), you must have been self employed in the business for at least six months. If your application is approved, Immigration New Zealand will grant a conditional residence visa, requiring you to continue to meet the requirements of this category for two years. When the two year requirements have been satisfied, you will then be able to apply to Immigration New Zealand for removal of the conditions.
If you are applying under Entrepreneur Residence (2 years), you must have been self employed in the business for at least two years. If your application is approved on this basis, a normal residence visa (without conditions) be granted.
You must show that the business is benefiting New Zealand significantly. Examples of "significant benefit" include the following:
- introducing new, or enhancing existing, technology, management or technical skills; or
- introducing new, or enhancing existing, products or services; or
- creating new, or significantly expanding existing, export markets; or
- creating sustained and ongoing full time employment for one or more New Zealand citizens or residents; or
- the revitalisation of an existing New Zealand business that has led to significantly increased financial performance; or
- introducing productivity-enhancing spillover benefits or increased capacity utilisation (such as significant net new job creation).
In addition, the business must be trading profitably or it clearly has a potential to become profitable in the following 12 months.
Please note that in the case of an Entrepreneur Residence (6 months) application, you must also show that you have created at least three ongoing and sustainable full time jobs for New Zealand citizens or residents. This is not a requirement for Entrepreneur Residence (2 years).
Many issues that you were not aware of could surface when you lodge a Entrepreneur residence application, so it will be worth getting proper advice and guidance from the beginning.