COVID-19 enforcement policy

Find out how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way we enforce compliance with the overseas investment rules.

Strategic priorities

The COVID-19 pandemic has not changed our strategic priorities in terms of what activity we investigate and enforce, but we are paying special attention to anything that might:

  • affect primary production or other essential services
  • be relevant to the recovery of the New Zealand economy, such as anything that might impact on the continuation of jobs, or on secondary business relationships (for example, contractors or supply chains).

Our decisions aim to support business continuity and ongoing employment where feasible, and without compromising our role as a regulator and the need to ensure proper maintenance of the law.

Failure to obtain consent

The requirement to obtain consent remains important, and we are continuing to work with overseas people to apply for consent where required.

Inadvertent breaches arising from difficulties in accessing specialist advisory services, for example, are considered on a case-by-case basis.

If we see an application for retrospective consent being a potential solution, we give reasonable timeframes to apply and are mindful of other pressures such as ensuring business continuity.

Apply for retrospective consent

Breaching conditions

We are likely to exercise leniency if there is a breach of a condition that relates directly or indirectly to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s response, such as inability to employ overseas seasonal workers.

Options we might consider include:

  • pausing or deferring investigations and resuming them at a later point (this could be suitable for situations where the breach relates to matters like outstanding walking access conditions or easement registrations which could be seen as lower priority in a time of reduced public movement/access)
  • notifying investors that we consider a breach has occurred but advising that we will defer taking any action for a specified time while they either comply or apply for a variation.

If there has been a breach that is of low consequence, where the investor is still achieving key benefits, it is likely that we will acknowledge the breach but take no further action.

Residency conditions

We recognise that investors under our One Home to Live In pathway may be genuinely unable to fulfil the 183 days in New Zealand requirement because of COVID-19. We can waive this if necessary.

If COVID-19 is preventing you from meeting the 183-day requirement, get in touch with the One Home to Live in team.

Contact the Overseas Investment Office

We can also apply leniency for investors in other pathways who have COVID-19 related reasons for failing to meet residency requirements.

Section 41 notices and other requests for information

Before serving notices or requesting information, we will consider the COVID-19 restrictions in place and may defer our request if required.

We will also consider the type of enquiry we are making and the ability of the recipient of the request to respond. We can adjust the timeframe or reconsider the form in which that information is held, if required.

For example:

  • Some agencies will be at the forefront of the Government’s response to COVID-19 and may have limited capacity to respond. If this is the case, we may allow a longer than usual timeframe for the response.
  • Some information may only exist in physical form and may be difficult to access during restricted access to places of work. If this is the case, we will consider whether there are alternative ways of seeking the same or similar information.
  • If a notice was issued before a lockdown and there are difficulties meeting the timeframe, we will consider requests for extensions. In this situation, contact the OIO staff member named in the notice.