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NZ submission on UK proposal for ancestry visas

NZ submission on UK proposal for ancestry visas

New Zealand has made a formal submission to the British Government about a proposed change in short term visa arrangements which could affect New Zealanders’ access to the UK, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.

“While New Zealand understands the United Kingdom’s efforts to ensure its immigration regime is robust, a reduction in the length of time New Zealand citizens can visit without seeking a visa would be of serious concern,” Helen Clark said.

New Zealanders can currently enter the UK visa-free for up to six months for tourism or business purposes. New Zealand film crews and academics can currently enter the UK visa-free for up to twelve months. The United Kingdom proposes to limit all these short term visas to three months.

“The Government has made a strong formal submission outlining our concerns. The proposals to change Britain’s short-term migration policy would reduce the maximum length of stay for short-term visitors. It would have implications for many New Zealand visitors to the UK, including tourists, business and academic visitors, and film crews.

“The New Zealand Government’s formal submission outlines the cultural and economic benefit which both countries derive from the current arrangements. It also draws on the importance of open access in acknowledging the historical ties between New Zealand and the United Kingdom and laying the foundation for the ongoing bilateral relationship.

“New Zealand made a strong case for use of immigration risk profiling in its submission on the youth mobility scheme. The UK Government took our ideas on board, and we have asked the Home Office to consider the proposals to short-term migration in the same light.

“There is a very small immigration risk posed by New Zealanders in the UK. Our two countries have a unique relationship, and New Zealanders should not be disadvantaged due to concerns about nationals from other countries,” Helen Clark said.

In addition, New Zealand will be making representations to the Home Office shortly in relation to the suggestion that the ancestry visa be abolished.

“Many New Zealanders greatly value their connections with the UK, including those whose grandparents were born there and who are currently entitled to ancestry visas. We believe the ancestry visa should remain in place as testimony to these connections, and the New Zealand Government will continue to lobby for this at a high level.

“Advice indicates that in the last year for which figures are available, 2006, around 8,490 ancestry visa holders entered the UK, of whom 1,940 were New Zealanders,” Helen Clark said.

Note for editors

The proposals to alter the short term migration regime and the path to citizenship are part of the sweeping changes the UK Government is making to its immigration system. It has already introduced a points-based system for skilled migrants.

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