Officials in New Zealand confirmed that Larry Page, Google’s co-founder, has been granted residency. This raises questions about whether wealthy individuals can actually buy access to the South Pacific country.
Immigration New Zealand stated that Page applied for residency under a special visa available to those with at least 10,000,000 New Zealand dollars ($7 Million) to invest.
The agency stated in a statement that “because he was overseas at the time, his request was not able be processed due to COVID-19 restrictions.” “Once Mr. Page arrived in New Zealand and his application was processed. It was approved on February 4, 2021.
Page’s status as a resident of New Zealand would not be affected by Page’s New Zealand citizenship.
New Zealand lawmakers confirmed Page and his son arrived in New Zealand in January, after Page’s family made an urgent request to have their son evacuated from Fiji in the midst of a medical emergency.
“The New Zealand ICU nurse-escort manned an air ambulance that transported the child and a family member from Fiji to New Zealand the day after the application was submitted,” Andrew Little, Health Minister, told Parliament.
Little could answer questions about Page’s entry into the country during a time New Zealand closed its borders to non-residents to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Little informed lawmakers that the family had followed all applicable virus protocols upon their arrival.
Page’s application for residency was approved three weeks later.
Immigration New Zealand stated that Page was a resident but not a permanent resident and that he is still subject to some restrictions.
The agency still promotes the “Investor+” visa, which offers a “New Zealand lifestyle,” and adds that you may be able “to bring your car, boat, or household items to New Zealand without any customs fees.”
Local news outlets reported Page had left New Zealand since then.
Google did not respond immediately to our requests for comment.
Forbes ranked Page sixth in the world with $117 billion as his wealth. Forbes reported that Page has resigned as the chief executive officer of Google’s parent company Alphabet, but he remains a shareholder and board member.
Opposition lawmakers stated that the episode raised questions as to why Page was approved so quickly when so many skilled workers and separated family members were trying to get into New Zealand.
Brooke van Velden, ACT deputy leader, stated in a statement that the government was sending a message to children that money is more important then doctors, fruit pickers, and families who live apart from their children.
It was revealed that Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire, had been granted New Zealand citizenship six years prior to his arrival in New Zealand. This despite not having ever lived in New Zealand. After a high-ranking lawmaker deemed his entrepreneurial skills and philanthropy valuable to the country, Thiel was approved.
Thiel didn’t even need to travel to California for the ceremony. He was granted citizenship in a private ceremony at Santa Monica’s New Zealand Consulate.