Wealthy immigrants will be granted residency to New Zealand almost immediately under new business migration laws.
The Radio New Zealand News, November 30, 2009
The Entrepreneur Plus immigration category came into effect on 30 November, offering a fast-track to residency for entrepreneurial migrants who create at least three fulltime jobs and invest $500,000 in their business.
Until now, entrepreneurial immigrants have been issued with long-term business permits and could apply for residency only after two years.
Under the new category, conditional residence will be granted virtually as soon as an application is made.
However, there is no guarantee that the application will eventually be approved.
The applicant must also have a certain grasp of the English language, and meet health and character requirements.
An immigration commentator says the new policy will make little difference for applicants.
Mike Bell, who formerly ran a support centre for immigrants, says the scheme will make little difference to applicants because they will still need a long term business visa which can be difficult to acquire.
Mr Bell says last year only 380 people were awarded residence through that route, bringing in less than $200 million a year.
However Auckland immigration consultant Kim Saull says he's already had interest from clients.
English level set too low – Bell
In addition, he says allowing in immigrants with a minimum score of four in the International English Language Testing System is a mistake.
'One of the main issues migrants face is integration – it's dealing with other people.
'If you're responsible for running a business, you need to be able to speak English well, you need to be able understand English well. The general score is six and a half. Dumbing it down to four is, I think, a huge mistake.'
A spokesperson for the Labour Department, Stephen Dunstan, defends the scheme, saying it provides flexibility and applicants still need to meet other criteria.
'We never bow to pressure,' he says. 'The government just assesses the type of English that's necessary. Previously it was set at IELTS 5, which is being able to use English like in an everyday situation.
'IELTS 4 is a level below that, so you don't have to be fully competent in English, but it helps provide a safety net for those people.'