Google co-founder Larry Page has gained New Zealand residency; officials confirmed, the stoking debate over whether highly wealthy people can essentially buy access to the South Pacific country.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Google co-founder Larry Page has gained New Zealand residency. Officials confirmed Friday, stoking debate over whether highly wealthy people can buy access to the South Pacific country.
Immigration New Zealand said Page first applied for residency in November under a special visa open to people with at least 10 million New Zealand dollars ($7 million) to invest.
“As he was offshore at the time, his application could not be processed because of COVID-19 restrictions,” the agency said in a statement. “Once Mr. Page entered New Zealand, his application could be processed, and it was approved on February 4, 2021.”
Gaining New Zealand residency would not necessarily affect Page’s residency status in the U.S. or other nations. New Zealand lawmakersin New Zealand in January after the family filed an urgent application to be evacuated from Fiji due to a medical emergency.
“The day after the application was received, a New Zealand air ambulance staffed by a New Zealand ICU nurse-escort Medevaced the child and an adult family member from Fiji to New Zealand,”.
Little told lawmakers the family had abided by applicablewhen they arrived. Page’s residency application was approved about three weeks later. Immigration New Zealand noted that while Page had become a resident, he didn’t have status and remained subject to certain restrictions.
Still, the agency on its website touts the “Investor Plus” visa asa “New Zealand lifestyle,” adding that “you may be able to bring your car, boat, and household items to New Zealand, free of customs charges.” Some local news organizations reported that Page had since left New Zealand.
Forbes onas the world’s sixth-wealthiest person, with a fortune of $117 billion. Forbes noted that Page stepped down as chief executive of , in 2019 but remained a board member and controlling shareholder. Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Opposition lawmakers said the episode raised questions about why Page was approved so quickly when many skilled workers or separated family members desperate to enter New Zealand were being. “The government is sending a message that money is more important than doctors, fruit pickers, and families who are separated from their children,” ACT deputy Velden said in a statement.
In 2017, itbillionaire Peter Thiel had been able to gain New Zealand citizenship six years earlier, despite never having lived in the country. Thiel was approved after a top lawmaker decided his entrepreneurial skills and philanthropy were valuable to the nation. Thiel didn’t even have to leave California for the ceremony held at the New Zealand Consulate in Santa Monica.