The new Global Impact Visa (GIV), revealed last month by the Ministry of Immigration, will be of great value to regions such as Nelson, as many others.
Delivered by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in partnership with the private sector, GIVs will be piloted for four years with a cap of 400 participants.
As such, successful GIVs applicants will be granted a three year work visa and will become eligible for residency provided they meet relevant criteria and can prove an impact on innovation in New Zealand.
“I meet many overseas business people who, whilst they may not qualify for immigration under the existing criteria for immigration, could well have the potential to bring exciting business ideas for development if given the opportunity,” says Bill Findlater, CEO, Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency.
“Over the years I have led business delegations to China and have also hosted many business people not only from China but also from many other countries such as USA, Europe and other Asian countries.
“One common theme I’ve noticed is that many of what I would call potential ‘up and comers’ are younger business people who don’t quite meet current criteria but who have the drive, initiatives and innovative ideas for exciting businesses that could have a significant impact on the regional business infrastructure if given the opportunity.
“Nelson should do everything possible to encourage these entrepreneurs that could do much in stemming the outflow of our younger workforce through the development of new businesses and employment opportunities.”
Going forward, the visa aims to bring in migrant entrepreneurs who have the “drive and capabilities to create and support innovation-based ventures” in New Zealand and its regions, providing the right support to operate effectively within the New Zealand business environment.
"This new visa is a positive step in a series of steps needed to reach the goal of the late Sir Paul Callaghan, to make New Zealand 'a place where talent wants to live’,” adds Graeme Muller, CEO, NZTech.
“We are a small country so the impact that a few high achieving young entrepreneurs could have over their lifetime is enormous.
“New Zealand is currently missing out on a key subset of global entrepreneurs and investors, who could add great value to our country and be contributing members of society, but don't meet New Zealand’s immigration criteria.
“While some of these criteria are applicable to many sectors, they are not conducive for attracting entrepreneurial talent in the current business landscape.”
As Muller explains, the competition for the world's best entrepreneurs is huge, with countries like Chile, Ireland, Singapore and Australia launching similar initiatives.
“But the difference with our Kiwi approach is that this is more than just a visa or a tax incentive,” he adds.
“New Zealand will be actively searching for and attracting young entrepreneurs that have a track record, and who would like to make a global impact.
“This visa will expand on our developing New Zealand story of resourcefulness, integrity and care for the people and land. It will hopefully attract the future Elon Musks of the world who will see this as an opportunity to make a real impact.”
Muller says New Zealand is ahead of Silicon Valley in considering immigration policy as a driver of innovation, as the United States has yet to develop any such policy that attracts foreign entrepreneurs wanting to start companies.
“By attracting individuals who are driven by the desire to make a global impact and solve big problems, New Zealand can differentiate itself from other countries, and lead in the race for talent,” he adds.