Understanding the New Zealand Entrepreneur Visa

Eastwood Global Business Migration Group

Understanding the New Zealand Entrepreneur Visa Application

Author: David Blakeman

Managing Partner, Eastwood Global Business Migration Group

Date 7th May 2019


The information contained within this blog investigates the NZ Entrepreneur Visa Application and guide. It is aimed at Business people intending to:

  1. Establish an new business in New Zealand;
  2. Buy à business in New Zealand;
  3. Relocate an existing business to New Zealand;

It is for those wishing to follow the ‘New Zealand ‘Entrepreneur Work Visa’ route.

The information in this blog analyses and seeks to explain form INZ 1221 Published May 2018, by the NZ Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

The reason why we have decided such a blog is required is due to the number of recent applications that are failing. Failing because they do not meet the requirements. Or more specifically those submitting them fail to understand what is required from them to ensure their application is accepted.

Why are Applications are Failing?

The answer to the above question is not straightforward. The author believes, based on many years of experience, that it comes down to a misunderstanding of how the requirements should be approached. The immigration process is an inherently legal process. There are many legally qualified agents/lawyers who are more than capable of providing a normal visa service to their clients. However, too often, these highly qualified experts lack a true understanding of the business process and an appreciation of socioeconomic factors influencing the NZ Immigration authorities. They fail to understand the mindset of the civil servants who have the responsibility of passing or failing such applications. They do not actually grasp what is required from the business plan they submit. As à result, they submit à business plan that would, for example, serve perfectly if submitted to à bank when seeking funds. However, it would fail to meet the much wider demands of the NZ Immigration Authorities.

The New Zealand Entrepreneur Visa. The Absolute Importance of the Business Plan

Make no mistake, if you follow this route, the business plan is of absolute importance. Think about it for à moment. By the time your representative has submitted your application, you can reasonably expect they will have ensured it meets all the legal requirements. That is after all what they are paid for.

So, why is it your application passes and others fail?

The reason is that you demonstrate with your business plan you understand the requirements set out in Form INZ 1221.

You have fully researched your business and demonstrate clearly:

  • How it fits into the local economy;
  • The regional economy;
  • The NZ economy; and
  • The global economy.

Not only how it fits but: the benefits it brings to:

  • The local;
  • Regional; and
  • National economy.

You have:

  • Located local suppliers and made proforma agreements;
  • You have demonstrated how you can benefit the local employment base;
  • Perhaps you have shown how you will be able to boost the research and development of a particular sector;
  • It may be you have demonstrated how your business will fill à gap in the market that desperately needs filling; or
  • How your business will draw in visitors to the benefit of the local economy;

In short, you have demonstrated you have a business that not only NZ wants but needs.

So let’s take a look at the requirements of
Form: INZ 1221- Entrepreneur Work Visa Guide

You can find the complete guide and application form at:



Completing Section K Business information

You need to complete a specific and detailed business plan as part of your application for an Entrepreneur Work Visa. There is advice on what to include in your business plan in sections O and P of this guide.

A close look at sections O & P

Section O Business plan O1

Meeting the objective of Entrepreneur instructions

You must explain how your business will demonstrate at least one of the characteristics identified in the Entrepreneur objective. The objective of the Entrepreneur category is to contribute to economic growth by enabling experienced business people to grow or establish businesses which have the following characteristics:

• high growth

• innovative

• export potential.

This first point is critical, fail to meet at least one of the above and your application will fail. It does not mean include à sentence that describes your potential business as being, high growth, innovative and having high export potential. Your whole document must scream out this message. The author would strongly advise your Business plan meets in full at least two if not all three of these objectives.

O2 Business plans must be specific to the proposed business, not a generic or template business plan;

This means you cannot use one you got from the internet or your bank.

and include satisfactory evidence that you have:

• funds to finance your business and support yourself and any dependent family members

This  information will be gathered and approved by your legal representative.

• enough relevant business experience to increase the chances of it succeeding

Your CV with explanations will normally cover this, remember that skills are transferable.

• done market research into the demand for your business in New Zealand, and

• based your business plan on realistic financial forecasts

We have already touched on the importance of research. Comprehensive financial data including forecasts with at least à three-year projection should be approved by a qualified accountant.

• a sound business record – (if you have been involved in business failure or bankruptcy within the last five years your application cannot be approved)

This should have been pointed out to you at the first meeting you held with your financial representative.

• sound business character – (if you have ever been involved in business fraud or impropriety your application cannot be approved), and

This should have been pointed out to you at the first meeting you held with your financial representative.

• registration – you have obtained professional or occupational registration in New Zealand if registration is required for the proposed business, and

You should have done this as soon as you had made a firm decision to proceed.

• export rights – you have obtained any certification, registration or distribution rights or licenses you will need to export, or evidence that you can obtain these.

This is absolutely essential to your application if you intend to be involved in such matters.

As each business plan is unique to the proposed business, your plan must be specific to your application. Standard responses, templates, and broad statements open to interpretation may result in your application being declined.

This underlines the critical importance of à professionally created business plan specific to your potential business, your capabilities and your finances – You have been warned.

The plan must be no more than three months old on the date the application is made. Your business plan will be assessed on the credibility of the information you provide and the knowledge that you display of the proposed business and the New Zealand business environment. Your business plan must, therefore, be supported by suitable evidence and reflect your research into the proposed venture. Each section of your business plan will be assessed separately, but the information you provide in each section should link together and be consistent.

So before you even start the process, ask yourself have the people you are intending to appoint as your representatives got the necessary experience and knowledge to give your application the best chance of success. If you have any doubts then it would be worth your while contacting us.

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