Google co-founder Larry Page gets residency in South Pacific

Google co-founder Larry Page gets residency in South Pacific

Larry Page has gained residency in South Pacific, officials confirmed Friday, stoking debate over whether extremely wealthy people can essentially buy access to the New Zealand country.

Immigration New Zealand said page applied for residency for the first time in November under a special visa open to people with at least 10 million New Zealand dollars to invest.

As he was offshore at the time, his application was not able to be processed because of COVID 19 restrictions, said the agency in a statement. Page entered New Zealand, his application was accepted and on 4 February 2021 was processed.

Page's residency status in the U.S. would not necessarily affect New Zealand residency, either.

The New Zealand lawmakers confirmed that Page and his son arrived in Fiji in January after the family filed an urgent application to evacuate the son from New Zealand due to a medical emergency.

The day after the application was received, a New Zealand air ambulance manned by an Fiji nurse-escort medevaced the child and an adult family member to the Parliament, Health Minister Andrew Little told lawmakers in Parliament.

Little was responding to questions about how Page managed to enter the country at a time when New Zealand opened its borders to non-residents in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Little told lawmakers that the family had abided by applicable virus protocols when they arrived.

Page's residency application was approved about three weeks later.

Immigration New Zealand noted that while Page was a resident, he didn't have permanent residency status and remained subject to certain restrictions.

Still, the agency on its website touts the Investor Plus visa as offering a New Zealand lifestyle, adding that you may be able to bring your car, boat and household items to New Zealand, free of custom charges.

Some local news organizations reported that Page's previous owner had left New Zealand.

Google has not responded to immediately in-depth comment requests for comment.

Forbes ranked Ellen Page as the sixth richest person in the world, with a fortune of $117 billion. Forbes reported that Page stepped down from Google's parent company Alphabet in 2019 and remained a board member and controlling shareholder.

Opposition lawmakers said the episode raised questions about why Page was approved so quickly at a time when many separated workers or qualified family members were forced to enter New Zealand as they were desperate to get into the country?

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 leader Brooke van Velden said in a statement.

In 2017, it emerged that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel had been able to gain New Zealand citizenship six years earlier, despite never living in the country. Thiel was approved after a top lawmaker determined his entrepreneurial skills and philanthropy were valuable to the nation.