Why Should Americans Move to New Zealand?

Maybe the shock of the recent Presidential election has worn off enough now for people to give serious thought to cutting their ties with the US.  Some US nationals living in New Zealand said that they were thinking about taking up New Zealand Citizenship in response.  And then just last week the NZ Herald reported that 13,000 American citizens had expressed their interest in moving to New Zealand.

Just one aspect of this change in the White House is disturbing signs of Trump’s intentions to influence the Supreme Court.  Anecdotally, I have heard stories of people encountering discriminatory treatment from others merely on account of their perceived ethnic origin, which they had never experienced until after the election result was announced.  It is as if, sadly, a new age of intolerance is dawning in the Land of the Free.

People from the US who have money, talent or a mixture of both have many places to go in the world.  There are some good reasons to put NZ high on the list.  A London based research group recently declared this country to be top of its Prosperity Index, which measures among other things NZ’s ability to deliver “wellbeing and health” to its people.  By an odd coincidence, it has come to light that the Government has significantly miscalculated its tax earnings – in its favour.  It’s not so common for a country to make more money than it expected.

So here are some avenues to explore:

Investor Residence

There are 2 schemes.  The fast-track to Residence, and the crown jewel of the Government’s migration strategy, is Investor Plus.  If you invest NZ$10 million for 3 years (that’s about US$7 million as at today), and are prepared to spend about 6 weeks per year on NZ soil, then Residence is yours.  Investment from NZ$1.5 million to $10 million for 4 years (Investor 2) is also available, but as it is a poinst system and there is a lot of competition, we are telling people to be ready to front up with at least $6 million to have a chance at getting in.

Most applicants for these categories are from China, but they face strict currency controls which prevent them getting funds to NZ.  Not so the US.  And consider that unlike many Western economies, the setting of our official cash rate means that interest rates do not float around zero.  A stable environment to adopt fixed investment, or to fund successful New Zealand business.

Take a look at our Guides to Investor Plus and Investor 2, and what “acceptable investments” you can make in New Zealand.

Skilled Migrant Residence

This is the main Residence category and relies upon people scoring points for factors such as NZ job offer, qualifications and work experience.  US nationals enjoy several advantages over some other countries.  For instance, many US tertiary qualifications are automatically recognised as equivalent to NZ degrees or diplomas.  Naturally enough, the US is a “comparable labour market” so that work experience gained there gives an applicant additional points.

People with skills and qualifications in the IT sector, biotech, creative industries and engineering are in demand in New Zealand.  We face chronic skill shortages in a number of areas because we lack New Zealanders with the necessary background; or those that do have gone to live overseas.

A word of caution: in October the Government dramatically raised the bar on Skilled Migrant entry criteria.  Almost everyone must now score points for a NZ job offer before they can consider applying.  Fortunately, US nationals can enter as visitors to explore the job market on foot.  We suggest that people thinking of Skilled Migrant Residence should first consider an Essential Skills Work Visa via an offer of work where local people are in short supply, as a stepping stone to Residence and a means to test whether New Zealand is right for them as a permanent destination.

Entrepreneur Work to Residence

Normally we try to talk people out of applying for a business visa.  In the case of people from the US we would probably take a second look.

Entrepreneur Visas are tough.  We must convince Immigration that someone has an innovative and workable concept for a business offering which will still be around at the end of the 3-year Work Visa which is the first step in the process.  It must also deliver “significant benefit to New Zealand”, which sets a high standard.

US businesspeople are better placed than many others to capitalise on this scheme.  They often come from a competitive environment where innovation and disruption permeate the culture as a matter of necessity.  They must keep meticulous corporate and financial records – unlike people from some other continents.  They come from a business culture where articulating your goals and setting concrete milestones to achieve them are familiar concepts – at least on paper.

For the right applicant we will recommend the Entrepreneur route if other options do not appear to be available.  Have a look at our summary of the policy, and think about it.





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Job titles for Immigration Applications – What’s in a Name?

Shakespeare said, ‘A Rose by any other name, would smell as sweet.’ (There is even an IELTS question on it!)
And employers have been known to ‘promote’ a person to a ‘new’ position, to avoid increasing pay.

In immigration, the job title is like the rose. It doesn’t matter too much what the title is, the reality is the job and the tasks carried out.
If the work actually done ‘is sweet’, i.e. the tasks are comparable to those in ANZSCO, then you have met a major requirement of the Skilled Migrant Category for a residence visa for New Zealand. But if the work actually done, does not meet the tasks in ANZSCO then you have a huge problem. Keeping with the floral analogy, just calling onion weed a rose, will not make it smell any better.
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The Real Cost of Unlicensed Immigration Advice

I have just lately seen a disturbing pattern.  I have had enquiries from visa applicants, questions from colleagues in the industry, even a comment on one of our blog posts (scroll to the bottom).  It’s a nasty game being played by Immigration New Zealand, and I think they’re breaking their own rules.

The Situation

Usually it involves someone applying for a visa from overseas.  They hire a person who claims to be a New Zealand immigration agent to help them prepare their application, and who (I guess) charges a decent fee to do this.  However, this shark knows that they are not legally allowed to give New Zealand immigration advice.  They want to keep control of the application, but they don’t want Immigration to know that they are involved.  So they don’t put their name or address anywhere on the application form; all they do is to insert their email address so that INZ will contact them with updates.

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Immigration issues for the super-rich – private jet owners

An interesting article recently appeared on news website Stuff, describing the situation of luxury private jet-owners wanting to travel with their crew and passengers in and out of New Zealand.
The article describes that the private jet market to New Zealand has been growing, from 44 aircraft in 2000 to a total of 391 visitors in 2015. The article explains that in around 10 to 15 years’ time these numbers could have doubled, particularly with planes from Asia, where there is a growing middle and upper class of premium travellers.

I find this all very interesting as I have never really thought of New Zealand too much as a private jet destination. Continue reading

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Human Trafficking and The Iceberg

The media has in the last week made much of the first human trafficking convictions in NZ. The article quotes well known immigration lawyer Richard Small as stating that the case is just ‘the tip of the iceberg’.
In another article, the headline reads The dark underbelly of human trafficking in New Zealand.
Although there could be thousands of ‘slaves’ in NZ working illegally and suffering systemic abuse, I’m sceptical enough to not expect any further court cases of this type in the foreseeable future, unless the media takes a more aggressive journalistic approach and reports strenuously and consistently on the issues they become aware of, until the politicians are embarrassed into demanding, and funding, action.

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South Africans – Get Back in Line

The NZ Government has just announced that South Africa is about to lose its visa-waiver status.  From 21 November 2016, all South Africans must apply for a visa before visiting New Zealand.  The privilege of being able to just walk on to a ‘plane from Joburg to Auckland is over.

How Did This Happen?

I can’t say I’m all that surprised.  There are several factors that have conspired to bring this about:

  1. The increasingly desperate state of affairs in SA has encouraged people to come to “Look, See & Decide” in greater numbers;
  2. Immigration’s growing uneasiness about the numbers of people coming from South Africa who are clearly not just on holiday; and its perception, rightly or wrongly, that a number of them might do whatever it takes to avoid going back there;
  3. People have been fed a lot of bad advice about how to get into New Zealand and stay here.  This extends to making false declarations about their intentions, such as saying that they are here to “holiday” when they are carrying invitations for job interviews from prospective employers in their luggage.

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Health Care Presentation 2016

In July, I wrote about the Case of the Health Care Assistant. After an unnecessarily complex and expensive process by INZ which was eventually sorted out after a formal complaint, I’m delighted to confirm that our client has been granted her work visa.

Unfortunately, she, as does anyone who has a visa application declined, must in any future visa application to any country, admit she has had a NZ visa declined, which may raise character concerns. Coincidentally, while her case was in process, we were contacted by another major organisation in the health care field with an almost identical situation. As a result of that call, I presented a seminar to their staff and management on the issues involved, what is achievable, what is not, and why.

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