New Zealand grants residency to Google's co-founder Page

MELBOURNE, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Larry Page, Google's (GOOGL.O) co-founder and one of the world's richest men, has become a New Zealand resident, with immigration services saying he had applied under a category for wealthy investors.

"Larry Page submitted an application for residence under the Investor Plus Category on 3 November 2020," Immigration New Zealand said in an e-mailed statement on Saturday.

"As he was offshore at the time his application was not able to be processed because of COVID-19 restrictions. Once Mr. Page entered New Zealand his application was able to be processed and it was approved on 4 February 2021."

The visa requires applicants to have NZ$10 million ($7 million) to invest in New Zealand over a three-year period, according to a statement on the immigration website. New Zealand closed its borders to visitors at the start of the pandemic, except for on-and-off travel bubble with Australia. The country allows only a limited number of returnees, requiring them to spend two weeks in a government-run quarantine facility.

Together with snap and strict lockdowns and high compliance with public health rules, the closed borders have helped keep COVID-19 out of the Pacific nation. There have been only 2,524 confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far.

When asked in the parliament earlier this week on what grounds Page was allowed entry into the country while the borders were closed, Health Minister Andrew Little said it followed a medical emergency application for Page's son to be evacuated from Fiji in early January.

"It met all the standard conditions of a medical emergency requiring a medical evacuation from the Islands, and every requirement and regulation that was in place in relation to medevacs and in relation to COVID-19 was complied with," Little said, according to a transcript on the parliament's website.

($1 = 1.4269 New Zealand dollars)

Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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