Changes to the Government's business migration scheme will make it easier for rich foreign investors to qualify as investor migrants.

These include a reduction in the number of days a $10 million investor has to spend in the country from 73 to 44 days, and recognising investments in bank bonds and equity, Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman announced yesterday at a breakfast meeting in Auckland.

Business migrants will also need to only meet one of the two requirements of either having managed a business with five full-time employees or a business with at least a $1 million annual turnover, instead of both.

But what immigration advisers say will attract investor migrants, especially those from China and the rest of Asia, are that funds can now be transferred through foreign exchange companies and not just banks, and the recognition of residential property, other than their own home, as an "acceptable investment".

The focus would be for these investors to build new subdivisions, houses and apartment blocks to increase the total housing stock available to New Zealanders, Dr Coleman said.

"The marketing of our business migration package will target key OECD markets including the United Kingdom and the United States. We're also looking at the major developing markets in India and Southeast Asia," he said.

Annually, new migrants add $1.9 billion, tourists $9 billion and international students more than $2 billion in foreign exchange.

"Given these compelling figures, my number one priority has been to ensure immigration is contributing to the Government's economic growth agenda," Dr Coleman said.

Immigration was working closely with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to link high-worth migrants with New Zealand businesses, the minister added.

Stakeholders in the immigration industry have welcomed changes with some saying it could attract hundreds of new investor migrants here.

The scheme, set up a year and a half ago to promote greater investment, has attracted $562 million.

"Asian investors, especially the Chinese, are happy and comfortable to be investing in residential properties," said Ming Tiang, a licensed immigration adviser from Chiwi Immigration Services.

Migrants are often blamed for pushing up house prices, but Mr Tiang believed that a significant increase in new housing stock could bring sale prices and rents down to a more affordable level.

Business migration scheme

* Investors with $10m need to spend only 44 days instead of 73 days during the three-year investment period.

* Residential property, bank bonds and equities now acceptable investments.

* Transfer of funds can be made through foreign exchange companies, and not just restricted to banks.

* Rules around level of business experience relaxed.