Is It Easier for Rich People to Become Permanent Residents of New Zealand?

Many people were up in arms recently when Google co-founder, Larry Page, estimated to be the world’s sixth-wealthiest person, was issued a New Zealand resident visa at a time when the country’s borders were technically closed.

Although New Zealand immigration officials emphasise that the process was all above board, it does raise questions about how much easier it is for the wealthy to get a visa.

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Typically the process to get a New Zealand residency is long-winded. Thousands and thousands of people can attest to this. New Zealand permanent residency is one of the most desirable statues in the world. But becoming an honorary resident kiwi is not guaranteed or an easy process. Statistics show that less than a fifth of temporary visa holders gain permanent residency.

The infographic below shows why New Zealand remains a tempting option for expats and continues to have a long list of people eager to become full-time residents despite the effort involved.

Getting a New Zealand Permanent Resident Visa

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So what is the typical pathway to becoming a permanent resident of New Zealand? Well, you’ll usually start with a temporary visa that allows you to work, study or own a business. Then you’ll apply to get a resident visa. Then, after 2 years, you’ll be eligible to apply for permanent residency.

How Many People Apply for Residency in New Zealand Each Year?

The answer is, a lot! 

Data from Immigration New Zealand shows that 539,921 resident visa applications were accepted for processing in the last 10 years. And these were just the ones that were accepted! 

Here are some facts and figures to highlight: 

  • The largest number of accepted resident visa applications in the last decade come from India (55,520) followed by China (48,122) and then Great Britain (35,418).
  • The United States, Page’s country of origin, comes in at number 8 with 10, 532 applications accepted for processing in the last 10 years.
  • One of the most popular routes to get a permanent resident visa is the skilled migrant route.

A total of 250,709 applications were accepted via the Skilled Migrant scheme in the last decade. 

It typically takes up to 6 months for immigration officials to make a decision on applicants looking to obtain residency via this stream.  

It is designed for people aged 55 or under who have the experience and training to fill New Zealand’s skills gap in areas such as construction, medicine, engineering, or IT. 

Although Page undoubtedly knows his way around a computer, this wasn’t the route that he took to get New Zealand residency. 

So How Did Page Get a Resident Visa?

He secured residency through the Investor Plus visa. 

New Zealand offers 2 different categories of investor visas and the Investor Plus one is a faster pathway to residency. 

If you have NZ $10 million (just over 7 million USD) knocking around to invest in the country over 3 years (just a drop in the ocean for Page who has a net worth of approximately 122.9 billion USD), you can apply for New Zealand residence.

Once your application is approved, you then have 12 months to transfer your funds to New Zealand and make an investment that the authorities deem acceptable. You can even bring your sports car or boat to the country free of customs charges. 

So how many people are awarded this type of visa you might ask? 

Well, the number of applications accepted in the Investor 2 category in the last 10 years totals approximately 10,358. That is a lot of millionaires wanting to come to New Zealand!

For the average person, this kind of wealth and lifestyle is beyond their wildest imagination. But if you’ve got your heart set on becoming a New Zealand resident one day and aren’t a multi-millionaire, don’t lose heart. 

Not Made of Money but Want To Make a Permanent Move to NZ?

Getting New Zealand permanent residency does not happen overnight but it is certainly not impossible. If you have the skills that the government is looking for, this can definitely accelerate the process. The population of New Zealand is small at just 5 million, so kiwis alone cannot cover all these roles.

And there are also some exceptional circumstances where individuals may seek directly a Permanent Resident visa outright. An example is if you have refugee status. 

Being in a long term relationship with a kiwi or being related to a New Zealand can make it easier to migrate to this nation permanently. And if Immigration New Zealand can’t grant you a Permanent Resident Visa, they may potentially be able to offer you another resident visa or update the travel conditions of your resident visa. 

Future of New Zealand’s Economy🌍

New Zealand continues to be an attractive place to move to and many individuals and companies are investing here too. This nation is known for being a progressive society with a high quality of life and permanent residents enjoy many of the same rights as New Zealand citizens. There are plenty of jobs for skilled expats and the kiwi government predicts the country’s post-pandemic GDP to rebound strongly with a growth of 3.8% by 2024.  This country renowned for its work-life balance and spectacular scenery looks set to attract the brightest minds for many years to come.