If you are interested in establishing or purchasing a business in New Zealand, the Entrepreneur work and subsequent resident visa pathway exists for you.

Gaining a New Zealand Entrepreneur Work Visa

An Entrepreneur Work visa allows an individual to either purchase an existing business or establish a new business in New Zealand. During the currency of the visa, it is expected that they operate their business successfully for a certain period of time, achieve the milestones set out as part of the work visa application, after which they should qualify for a New Zealand resident visa. The eligibility for a resident visa is measured directly against the performance of the business.


Many migrants make the mistake of concentrating on how to secure their first Entrepreneur Work Visa, without considering the feasibility of the business plan they have presented to INZ to secure that visa, nor what their ongoing obligations are going to be if they are to successfully acquire residence from that pathway.


The other key mistake many make is failing to appreciate the underlying objective of the policy, that they are required to meet: to facilitate businesses that are “high growth” (read job generation) “innovative” (read unique process or product) and/or which have “export potential”. If the business proposal cannot demonstrate one of these three traits, the application will be declined. 


We can assist migrants to determine whether a business proposal will meet INZ's strict requirements under this category, and from there, whether the minimum points threshold, capital investment and general criteria are met.  


As with investor applications, we strongly recommend that pursuing any visa via the Entrepreneur pathway should be done in collaboration with reputable advisors, including an immigration specialist, an accountant and a business adviser/agent. As a business plan is fundamental to the success of the application for both the work visa, and for the subsequent resident visa, preparing it with the correct specialist advice is vital. 

Entrepreneur Residence Category

An Entrepreneur Work visa holder can usually progress to applying for a resident visa once they can demonstrate that:


  • they have established their business in line with their original business plan; and
  • have operated the business for a minimum of two years; and
  • the business is profitable as at the date the application is submitted; or
  • it is capable of generating a profit within 12 months of submission of the application




In some instances, a resident visa can be applied for after just 6 months, if they can demonstrate that: 


  • they have invested at least NZ$500,000 into the business (business capital); and
  • have created at least 3 on going and sustainable full time employment positions for New Zealand citizens or residents


The important take home is that if there is any inconsistency with the business that has eventuated, as compared to the business plan specified to INZ to secure the work visa, then this can create quite significant eligibility issues when applying for residence.

How Saunders & Co can add value: 

  • Advising on the requirements for the Entrepreneur pathway and how best to structure your move to achieve your goals, for both the work visa and residence.
  • Working with your trusted advisers to prepare the appropriate documentation to present the business proposal to INZ.
  • Working with our commercial, property and tax teams to provide a full wrap around legal service pertaining to the purchase, establishment and operation of a business in New Zealand.

For immediate assistance from our team

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