British nationals hoping to spend some or all of their retirement in New Zealand will able to apply for residency under a new retirement visa from today, April 01.
The visas though come at a price and require considerable incomes and investment qualifications for those wishing to apply and are therefore only likely to be available to the well off.
Previous to this, Immigration New Zealand did not have a fixed retirement policy, and did not accept British migrants over the age of 56.
The New Zealand visa retirement category is open to those aged 65 and over. It is divided into two; a parent retirement visa for those with family already in the country and a temporary retirement visa for those who don’t have family connections with New Zealand.
The parent New Zealand visa grants permanent residency to applicants who have an equal number or more of their family in New Zealand but comes with a number of financial requirements. Applicants must be able to offer at least NZ$1 million (£465,000) in qualifying investments over four years, as well as $500,000 for maintenance and an income of at least $60,000 (£28,000) per annum.
The temporary retirement visa is a two year permit for British people, provided that they invest in the country at least NZ$750,000 (£345,000) in qualifying investments, as well as $500,000 (£230,000) for maintenance, and an annual income of at least $60,000 (£28,000) from pensions and other investments. The visa can be renewed every two years, provided that settlers continue to meet the criteria.
Christopher Noakes, a senior consultant for New Zealand immigration consultancy IMMagine, said that the new visa was an important change in visa legislation but it is restrictive. ‘It is unlikely many retired people will be able to find this much money, especially for more than two years,’ he said.
There are around 215,000 British expats living in New Zealand and statistics from the New Zealand Department of Labour show that the UK is the largest source country of migrants approved for permanent residency at 17%. However, the rate of migration from the UK has fallen during the economic slowdown of the past few years.