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Business category

Special visas for entrepreneurs who plan to open or grow an innovative business venture which would generate export potential

Unlike investor visas which allows to apply for a resident visa straight away, the Business category comprises of two steps – Entrepreneur Work Visas (normally around 3 years in total) and Entrepreneur Resident Visa.

Main visa requirements

Applications for an Entrepreneur Work Visa may be approved if:

  • the applicant can demonstrate that they will meet a minimum capital investment of $100,000, unless this requirement has been waived (can only be waived for businesses in science, ICT, or other high value export-oriented sector); and
  • the applicant has been awarded a minimum of 120 points; and
  • the applicant provides a business plan specific to the proposed business ; and
  • the applicant has not been involved in bankruptcy or business failure within the 5 years preceding the date their application was made; and
  • the applicant has not been involved in business fraud or financial impropriety; and
  • the applicant can provide evidence to satisfy a business immigration specialist that they have sufficient funds, in addition to investment capital, to finance their business and provide a reasonable living for themselves and their family; and
  • has sufficient business experience relevant to their business proposal with a genuine intent to establish the business described in the business plan
  • the applicant and their family meet other basic requirements such as character, health, English, etc

The business plan is probably the most crucial part of the application and must be very well prepared. INZ would want to see sufficient financial and research documentation to support any of the claims made about the proposed business, or concerning any aspect of the applicant’s skills, funds or experience.

Entrepreneur Work Visas

The Entrepreneur Work Visa is a special category of temporary entry class visa with conditions that allow self-employment in New Zealand. An Entrepreneur Work Visa may be granted for a total period of up to 3 years, encompassing an Entrepreneur Start-Up stage and Entrepreneur Balance stage. Only one fee and one immigration levy will be charged for an Entrepreneur Work Visa.

The Entrepreneur Start-Up stage is the first 12 months of the Entrepreneur Work Visa (but it can be extended in some cases). During the Entrepreneur Start-Up stage, the holder of the Entrepreneur Work Visa is expected to establish and commence the operation of an agreed business in New Zealand.

Once the business is established as agreed in the business plan, they apply for another Entrepreneur Work Visa moving to the balance stage. The visa will normally be valid for another 2 years, being the balance of the 3 year period.

Entrepreneur Resident Visas

This visa is the next step for entrepreneurs who have been actively participating in business and contributing to New Zealand’s economic development. At this stage business people have to demonstrate that they have successfully established a business in New Zealand that realises the benefits outlined in their business plan, and have operated that business for at least: two years or six months, depending on their investment. The six-months rule requires an entrepreneur to have made a capital investment of at least NZ$500,000 in their business and have created at least three ongoing and sustainable full time jobs for New Zealand citizens or residents. The two-years rule only requires the business plan to be fully executed and complied with.

Disclaimer: information on our website is presented for general guidance only and may not reflect the latest changes in immigration law (though we always aim to update it as soon as practically possible). Please refer to Immigration New Zealand website for official immigration instructions.