Cook Islands: Country and Foreign Investment
Entry and Residence
The Entry, Residence and Departure Act 1977 states that anyone other than a Cook Islands citizen or permanent resident who wishes to live and work on the Islands must first obtain a work and residence permit. An application for a work and residence permit can now be made online.
Formal unemployment is low and there is a shortage of skilled and qualified workers in both the public and business/private sectors. Where qualified local persons are not available to fill a position, the foreign investor may recruit from overseas.
For short-term entry, passport, proof of sufficient funds, and onward/return ticket are required. For many nationals, a visa is not needed for visits up to 31 days.
In August 2007, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Wilkie Rassmussen, announced that permanent residence permit holders who had lived outside the country for more than three years would be liable to lose their permanent residency rights.
In February 2008, Parliament passed the Entry, Residence and Departure Amendment Bill 2008, which amended the 1971-72 Act with respect to Permanent Residence (PR) and now allows the granting of up to 650 PR certificates, 150 more than the previous 500.
The amendment also required applicants not only to be of "good character" but to have a proven record of having made a "significant positive contribution to or investment in the Cook Islands in terms of skills, expertise, community work or financial investment."
There was also a new seperate category added, allowing unlimited number of PR certificates to be granted to those married to Cook Islanders or PRs, as long as they have been married for no less than five years.