New Zealand – Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Work Visa Category

If you are an experienced business person and you want to be self-employed in your own business in New Zealand, applying for a work visa under the Entrepreneur Work Visa Category may be an option for you.

An Entrepreneur Work Visa will enable you to move to New Zealand and buy or establish your own business. It could be the first step on your pathway to applying for residence in New Zealand under the Entrepreneur Residence Category.

How does this visa work?

An Entrepreneur Work Visa is a three year work visa in two stages: a Start-up stage and a Balance stage.

Start-up stage:

If your Entrepreneur Work Visa is approved, you will initially be given a 12-month work visa, enabling you to buy or establish your business in New Zealand.

Balance stage:

This is for the remaining 24 months of your visa. You can be granted the Balance of your Entrepreneur Work Visa once you have shown the Business Migration Branch that you have taken steps to establish your business.

Examples of steps are:

  • Transferring your investment capital to New Zealand through the banking system
  • Actions taken to establish your business, as shown by:
    • Documents showing setting up the business (e.g. certificate of incorporation)
    • Property purchase or lease documents for the business’ site
    • Invoices for business equipment and supplies
    • Other documents such as employment agreements, bank statements, utility company invoices.
    • Actions that show you have started operating your business, such as:
    • Documents evidencing the constitution of the business (e.g. certificate of incorporation)
    • Property purchase or lease documents relating to the business’ site
    • Invoices for business equipment and supplies

What are the main requirements?

  • In order to be approved for an Entrepreneur Work Visa, you must:
    • Make a minimum capital investment of NZ$100,000 (excluding working capital), unless this requirement is waived
    • Meet or exceed 120 points on a scale which awards points for factors relating to the likely success of the proposed business and its value to New Zealand
    • Have a business plan specific to your proposed business
    • Not been involved in bankruptcy or business failure within the 5 years preceding the date your application is made
    • Not have been involved in business fraud or financial impropriety, and
    • Meet our health and character requirements for residence and English language requirements.

The Applicant must be: Self-employment

  • Self-employment is active involvement in the management and operating of a business which the principal applicant has established or purchased, or made a substantial investment in.
  • Substantial investment is defined as the purchase of 25% or more of the shareholding of a business. It does not include involvement of a passive or speculative nature.
  • Self-employment must be lawful.
  • Self -employment must be full time.
  • Applicants for an Entrepreneur Work Visa may claim points for experience of self-employment in the points scale for businesses outside of New Zealand, or for self-employment in New Zealand on a visa which allows this.

Senior management

  • Extensive experience at a senior level within a business, in planning, organization, control, change management and direction-setting, acquired through senior management experience in a lawful business enterprise that has at least five full-time employees or an annual turn-over of NZ$1 million.
  • To demonstrate senior management experience, an applicant will need to be able to demonstrate previous experience in which they held the day-to-day responsibilities of managing a business or company or corporation, or function within a large company (with 5 or more full time employees, or a turnover in excess of $1,000,000 per annum), with specific executive powers conferred onto them by the board of directors and/or the shareholders.

Compare the basic criteria of the two Enterpreneur Residence Categories Options

Criteria (minimum) Entrepreneur Residence Category (2 years) Entrepreneur Residence Category (6 months)
Hold an Entrepreneur Work Visa or LTBV You do not have to hold an Entrepreneur Work Visa or LTBV. If you do not hold one of these visa, you must be on a work via which allows self-employment You must hold an Entrepreneur Work Via or LTBV to apply
Investment Capital No set amount, For applicants on an Entrepreneur Work visa or LTBV, the investment capital must match what was stated in your business plan. At least NZ$0.5 million must have been actively invested in your business, excluding working capital
English language Principal applicants must either show an An International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test report with an overall band score of 4 or more, or provide evidence that they meet this requirement Other evidence can be considered. Secondary applicants can either show that they have an IELTS score of 4 or have an English Speaking background, or can pre-purchase English language (ESOL) tuition.
Miximum age None None
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