Entrepreneur Visa

Why is an entrepreneur visa application challenging?

Do you want to set up or buy a business in New Zealand? If you wish to own a business in the country, you will need to apply for an entrepreneur visa.

You need to meet several requirements for this visa, which can be quite challenging to prove without an experienced lawyer. Immigration New Zealand may not accept your business plan as a clear enough plan for your investment if it has changed or is notional or too generic. Providing how you have acquired your investment funds and if they were lawfully earned can also be a complicated process.

It’s always a good idea to have an experienced team of lawyers behind you to support your visa application, especially with entrepreneur visas, which have a high decline rate.

What requirements do I need to meet?


The Entrepreneur Visa category is worth considering if you wish to set up or take over a business venture. The route to residence is initially started with an Entrepreneur Work Visa (EWV), which is valid for up to 3-years.

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You must obtain approval for a business plan that is based on a business investment of at least NZ$100,000 and claim 120 points on the points scale. Immigration New Zealand will need to assess whether it has the ability to be profitable and provide “substantial benefit to New Zealand”.

The principal applicant must meet English language standards, and all persons associated with the applicant must be of good health and character.

After 2 years, the applicant can apply for a Resident Visa on the basis:

  • The approved business plan has been carried out
  • The applicant has worked in the business for at least 2 years
  • The business has been profitable
  • Character, Health and English language requirements are met

However, an applicant can apply for residence earlier if they have

  • Successfully established their business and have run it for six months,
  • Invested at least NZ$500,000 in that business,
  • Created at least 3 new full-time jobs for New Zealanders,
  • Good character and health requirements must still be met.

The resident visa issued under this provision will be conditional on the new New Zealand jobs continuing and the investment funds remaining in the business for at least 2 years from the original investment date.

Business plan

Your business plan needs to be specific to the proposed business that you are setting up or purchasing and meet immigration requirements for a business proposal.

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It must include evidence to support that there are sufficient funds to finance the proposal, and you have sufficient business experience relevant to the proposal.  The financial forecasts must be realistic, market research into the New Zealand business environment for the proposed business needs to be completed, and other evidence needs to support the proposal.

If purchasing an existing business, the following will need to be included in your business plan

  • Evidence of the value of the business, for example, a sales and purchase agreement or independent valuation
  • Evidence of the profitability of the business, for example, profit and loss statements or audited accounts for the last 2 years
  • Information about how many people the business currently employs
  • Information about the benefit your business activity will provide New Zealand.

At Pacific Legal, we work closely with an accounting firm that could assist with fine-tuning your business plan and ensure the requirements are met.

A holder of an EWV may submit only one request to change their business plan within the validity of their visa. Any changes proposed must be minimal (i.e. does not change the nature of the proposed business), or the request will be declined.

The request to change the business plan must be for genuine reasons, require the same or more capital investment, have the same or greater points, continue to offer some benefit to New Zealand and still meet all other criteria.

Investment Funds

Requirements around the location and source of the investment funds are quite stringent. You will need to be able to provide evidence showing that your nominated investment funds and/or assets are owned either by you or jointly by you and your partner and/or dependent children. The funds must also be unencumbered, earned or acquired legally, and transferable through the banking system.

Challenges with the entrepreneur visa

It is often very difficult to meet the requirements under this category.  When we last checked, there was a 90% decline rate for residence.  We never recommend this visa if there is another option.   Much would depend on your business plan and your business track record. We find that most clients overestimate points, which do not stand up to Immigration New Zealand’s very tough assessment.

So, get in touch with Pacific Legal for expert immigration advice and find out the best immigration path for your situation!