National's plans for business investors 'chequebook immigration'
By Claire Trevett
New Zealand Herald
4:00AM Friday September 05, 2008
National's plans to allow wealthy foreigners to retire to New Zealand and to loosen the rules for business investors is “chequebook immigration”, says Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove.
The party's new immigration policy includes a retirement visa, available for wealthy overseas retirees who can foot their own bills rather than rely on the taxpayer.
It is aimed at “high net worth” people, who would have to agree to indemnify New Zealand against any health, welfare and superannuation costs.
National's immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith said it was a “win-win” policy because it would attract more spending without any burden on taxpayers.
But Mr Cosgrove said Dr Smith had rejected the same idea as associate immigration minister in 1999, because of difficulties it would create around access to public healthcare and problems for hospitals in recouping money owed to them.
National also proposes a “silver fern” visa, which will allow people with tertiary qualifications recognised in New Zealand to enter for a period of time to job-hunt. Those who gained a permanent job that exceeded a certain salary threshold – yet to be set – would be given a 24-month visa and put on fast track to residency.
Dr Smith said changes were also needed to rules under which investors could live here, indicating National would lower the English language requirements and change rules on how investment money must be used.
* A Retirement Visa for wealthy overseas retirees who would not qualify for taxpayer funded services, such as health, superannuation or social welfare.
* A Silver Fern visa to allow tertiary-educated migrants to enter to look for work and gain a 24-month visa if they earn over a certain amount.
* Change investment and English language requirements for business investors to attract more.
* Less red tape for expatriate New Zealanders who want to return with their families.
* A review of the Immigration Service, and possibly set it up as a stand-alone department if this can be done without increasing the number of bureaucrats.