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:
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.
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.