New Zealand, UK to expand visa schemes

'This will further strengthen the powerful people-to-people bond that already exists between us'

New Zealand, UK to expand visa schemes

The New Zealand and United Kingdom governments announced on Friday changes to their visa schemes to allow more citizens to live and work in both countries for a longer period.

New Zealand's UK Working Holiday Scheme will now have a higher eligibility age of 35 years old and allow Brits to stay and work in the country for up to three years.

This is an expansion from the current standards, where UK citizens up to the age of 30 are only allowed to work in New Zealand for up to 12 months and stay for up to 23 months, according to Immigration NZ.

"The 4,200 visa holders from the UK currently in New Zealand will now be able to extend their right to remain and work here for at least a year longer," said Prime Minister Chris Hipkins in a statement.

British nationals who want to stay for over 12 months will need to provide health certificates, while a police certificate will also be required for those wanting to stay for over 24 months, according to Immigration NZ on its website.

Benefits for employers

The changes to the scheme, which will take effect on July 1, are expected to benefit employers that have been calling on the government to address the skills shortage across the country.

"Securing an implementation date for this new scheme sooner than expected means those who are already in country will now be eligible to remain here longer, adding to the pool of labour available to businesses," Hipkins said.

He added that the changes "reflect the depth" of the country's relationship with the UK.

"They are one of our closest partners, and we share a long-standing relationship based on shared history, strong people to people links, and common values and interests. The improvements to this scheme are testament to this," the prime minister said.

Youth Mobility Scheme

Meanwhile, the UK's Youth Mobility Scheme will see similar changes starting June 29.

The age limit for New Zealand applicants who want to work in UK will also be raised from 30 to 35 years old, while their maximum length of stay will be extended to three years, according to the UK government's website.

"We are always proud to welcome Kiwis to the UK, and the expanded schemes will mean that from this summer, more young Brits and New Zealanders will have the opportunity to make lasting connections, develop their skills and make a significant contribution to their host country's society," said UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick in a statement.

The changes to the schemes are also expected to benefit both the UK and New Zealand culturally, socially, and economically, according to Iona Thomas, British High Commissioner to New Zealand.

"This will further strengthen the powerful people-to-people bond that already exists between us," Thomas said.

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