US & Canada

US applications for New Zealand citizenship jump 70% after election

Queenstown is seen on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with the Remarkables mountain range in the background. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The country is more than 6,000 miles (10,000km) from the mainland US

The number of Americans who applied for citizenship in New Zealand has jumped 70% in the three months since President Donald Trump was elected.

There were 170 US applications during the first 12 weeks, compared with 100 a year earlier, say the Associated Press.

So the total figure remains relatively low.

But the deep divisions left by a bruising US election appear to make New Zealand - famous for its scenery - look more attractive than ever.

In the two days after Mr Trump's upset, New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs said the number of Americans visiting its website to learn about citizenship increased to 4,146 from 305 on the same two weekdays a month earlier.

Alanna Irving, a 33-year-old technology start-up entrepreneur from San Francisco moved to New Zealand six years ago.

"It's an extremely liveable place and you can see and palpably feel the difference in how society is organised, and what people prioritise," she said.

"New Zealand is a place that cares about equality, I think more. It's less individualistic, more community-minded."


A 'utopia' for Americans - Ben Collins, Wellington

It isn't just the mega-wealthy that are attracted to New Zealand. Sarah Coombes-Crome, an immigration consultant, said that traffic to her firm's website was up approximately 600% the day after Donald Trump won the election and has remained higher than average.

"They are from all over the United States and are educated, looking to either work in New Zealand or invest if they have a considerable amount of capital behind them."

Chris Whelan, the chief executive of the Wellington regional economic development agency, says the country offers plenty of career opportunities, but with a much better lifestyle that you would find elsewhere.

"I was talking to someone out of San Diego this morning and he's looking to invest potentially tens of millions of dollars in New Zealand.

"For him it's got excellent skills, excellent talent, and what was previous a boundary (distance)… with modern technology you're connected to the world all the time.

"It's a country with a similar land mass to Britain but with 4.4 million people."

Read more from Ben on the lure of NZ for jaded Americans


The South Pacific island nation boasts more sheep than its population of 4.8 million people by about six to one.

Its sweeping vistas and majestic coastlines are located more than 6,000 miles (10,000km) away from the mainland US.

Citizenship is a privilege reserved for people born in New Zealand, have parents who were born there or have lived in the country for five years.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Thiel, a co-founder of Paypal and early investor in Facebook, is one of the many US migrants that have taken an interest in New Zealand

Among Americans with a New Zealand parent, citizenship applications after 8 November rose to 203 from 183 a year earlier, according to the AP.

More recently, New Zealand attracted international attention after the New Yorker magazine ran a piece titled Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich.

It detailed a growing number of tech billionaires who are securing a foothold in New Zealand in an increasingly volatile world.

Peter Thiel, a tech billionaire who advises President Trump, is among those wealthy investors who have become a citizen.

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