Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Firm's owner battles to stay in NZ

Entrepreneur questions her rejection after setting up a successful business.

Lanfang Zhang says she is not prepared to buy $500,000 of bathroom stock for her business. Photo / Natalie Slade
Lanfang Zhang says she is not prepared to buy $500,000 of bathroom stock for her business. Photo / Natalie Slade

A Chinese entrepreneur may miss out on a chance for permanent residence despite setting up a successful business and employing three people.

Businesswoman Lanfang Zhang, 43, had applied for residency under the Entrepreneur Plus immigration category, which offers conditional residency to entrepreneur migrants who invested $500,000 and created at least three fulltime jobs.

Despite having transferred $590,000 into a New Zealand account to start a bathroom-furnishing business, Top Tile and Bathroom, in Glenfield and turning over a decent profit in its first year, Ms Zhang has been told that she has failed to meet policy requirements.

Immigration New Zealand said money in the bank was not considered an acceptable investment, and neither were costs incurred in running the business such as freight charges, import taxes and fees for bio-security and legal services, although it accepted stock purchased as part of Ms Zhang's investment.

"In Lanfang Zhang's case, stock purchased overseas and in New Zealand to the value of $339,262.14 was considered as part of the investment in terms of migration instructions," an agency spokeswoman said.

She said Ms Zhang holds a long-term business visa and could continue to operate her business only until April 7 next year.

She could appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal, but an earlier ruling by the tribunal upheld Immigration's interpretation of the instructions.

It defined business investment as "money committed in a long-term fashion to infrastructure, assets or stock" and "not simply put into a current account to enable the ongoing operation of the business".

The policy instructions also require the investment of $500,000 to be retained for a minimum of two years.

Ms Zhang's immigration adviser, Tuariki Delamere, has written to the Immigration Minister claiming Immigration's interpretation and the tribunal's decision go against the policy objectives.

"So a migrant who brings in stocks and goods for retail to the tune of the required amount must hold on to them for two years before being able to sell them. That's just nonsensical, absurd and wrong," said Mr Delamere.

"It's ridiculous to go around penalising migrant entrepreneurs for being successful in their business, and selling the stocks they imported for the very purpose of selling."

A former Immigration Minister, he supported policies aimed at attracting investments but "clowns and incompetent decisions" were costing the country millions of dollars in lost economic opportunities.

"Immigration's decision was contrary to all fundamental principles of accounting and business," he said.

Since the Entrepreneur Plus scheme was introduced on November 30, 2009, just 19 applications had been approved, nine declined and four withdrawn.

The top nationalities applying under the category were China, South Africa and Russia.

Ms Zhang, who claims to own a similar business in South Africa that had a $5 million annual turnover, said she was not prepared to purchase $500,000 of bathroom stock for her business here.

"The market here is too small, and ultimately my aim is to run a successful business and not just go through the motions to meet immigration requirements."

Entrepreneur Plus

What's required:
*$500,000 investment
*3 fulltime jobs
*2 years that the investment must be retained

(Introduced in Nov 2009 to fast track residency of entrepreneur migrants)

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 02 Aug 2014 05:16:22 Processing Time: 471ms