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New Zealand introduces retirement visas

British people hoping to retire to New Zealand will be able to apply for a new type of visa.


This new retirement category, which begins on 29 March, is open to those aged 65 and over, and takes the form of either a parent retirement visa – for those with family in the country – or a temporary retirement visa for those who have no relationship with New Zealand.

The policy before this was that Immigration New Zealand did not have a fixed retirement policy, and did not accept British migrants over the age of 56.

Holders of the temporary retirement visa are given a two-year permit for British people who wish to spend some of their retirement in New Zealand, with a proviso that they invest in the country.
The investment criteria are NZ$750,000 (£345,000) in qualifying investments, $500,000 for maintenance, and an annual income of at least $60,000 from pensions and other investments. The visa can be renewed after two years, if settlers continue to meet the criteria.

Holders of the parent visa have permanent residency if they have an equal number or more of their family inside New Zealand than anywhere else. There are financial criteria to be met; at least NZ$1m in qualifying investments over four years, as well as $500,000 for maintenance and an income of at least $60,000 a year.

This marks a significant change in immigration policy as prior to this the only way to get residency was with a working visa and only up to the age of 56. It is unclear how many people this will encourage to retire to New Zealand as the financial criteria are onerous.

There are about 215,000 British expats living in New Zealand and the UK is the largest source country of migrants approved for permanent residency (17 per cent). However, the rate of migration from the UK has fallen during the recent financial crisis, according to statistics from New Zealand Department of Labour. 

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