UK to let Kiwis work longer

Last updated 23:35 28/10/2008

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Work restrictions on young Kiwis in Britain have been loosened.

From next month New Zealanders heading to Britain on a two-year working holiday will be able to work the whole time.

The current two-year working holiday visa limits Kiwis to 12 months' work during their stay - a limit flouted by many.

But the youth mobility scheme, which comes in from November 27, will let them work the full 24 months.

About 5000 New Zealanders go to the United Kingdom every year on working holiday visas, a move that has become a rite of passage.

News of the visa change was welcomed by Prime Minister Helen Clark last night.

"This is great news for New Zealanders aged 18 to 30 wishing to experience life in the UK," she said.

The change followed a flurry of letters between the New Zealand and British governments.

"British ministers and officials have recognised the low risk and high value New Zealanders bring to the UK during their travels," Miss Clark said.

"Young New Zealanders work in schools, hospitals, law firms and finance, as well as in the pubs and restaurants many of us used to associate the Kiwi OE with."

The new visa is expected to cost about $270 compared with $554 under the current scheme.

Applicants will have to prove they are New Zealand citizens aged between 18 and 30, have the equivalent of 1600 (presently about $4300) available to them, and have not visited the UK on a working holiday visa before.

British high commissioner George Fergusson said he saw the change as positive. "Working holidays by young British people here and young New Zealanders in Britain have been a really important part of the relationship between the two countries. I benefited from this myself."

After overhauling its immigration system, the British Government had already decided to keep issuing ancestry visas for New Zealanders with grandparents born in Britain, and granting visa-free access for up to six months for Kiwi travellers.


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- The Dominion Post

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