Labour is looking "very closely" at changing the rules for foreign investors who can get residency in New Zealand by paying $10 million.

The party has said it would place further controls on immigration after Treasury predicted net migration would soon increase to almost 40,000 a year, but it has not given details about cuts.

Immigration spokesman Trevor Mallard said yesterday that one of the categories Labour would consider changing was business migrant schemes, introduced by National in 2009. Mr Mallard said the Investor and Investor Plus categories would "certainly be looked at very closely" if Labour was elected, though no final policy decisions had been made.

The Investor Plus scheme allowed an applicant to get residency if they invested $10 million in New Zealand and committed to living in the country for 44 days a year, even if they spoke little English and had no business experience. The Investor scheme required a $1.5 million investment but had stricter language, age and travel tests.


Mr Mallard was critical of National for dropping requirements for "some very rich people" to learn English before being granted residency.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said last month that the investment categories were under review, but appeared to be working well. Immigration New Zealand data showed the number of successful Investor Plus applicants jumped from nine to 21 between 2010 and 2013, and from 30 to 99 people in the Investor category over the same period.

Several controversial people have settled here under the Investor Plus category, including Kim Dotcom, who is facing extradition to the United States for copyright violations, and Chinese businessman Donghua Liu, who has pleaded guilty to two charges of assault.