NZ hopes for better UK work access for Kiwis after Brexit complete
Any chance of tightening immigration rules in the United Kingdom being rolled back will have to wait until after Britain's exit from the European Union is finalised, Prime Minister Bill English believes.
The latest blow to Kiwis hoping to be able to work in the UK came from the governing British Conservative Party, which is expected to be returned to government in elections on June 8.
Election policies announced by British Prime Minister Theresa May are seen as a deterrent to foreigners wanting to work in the UK. They are:
- Doubling the Immigration Skills Charge levied on companies employing migrant workers to £2000 (NZ$3500) a year, using the revenue to train UK workers – putting Kiwis and Australians at a new disadvantage on the British job market.
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- Toughening visa requirements for students, requiring them to leave the country at the end of their course unless they meet new, higher requirements.
- Increasing the Immigration Health Surcharge to £600 (NZ$1050) for migrant workers and £450 (NZ$780) for international students, to cover their use of the NHS.
- Increasing the earnings threshold for people wishing to sponsor migrants for family visas.
Speaking in Hong Kong, English said the Government was looking ahead to the time when the UK was out of the EU, "to build the relationships so that we can influence them later on to try and get better access for New Zealanders.
"I think while they are currently in the process of exiting the European Union we're not going to be able to get any gains on that policy," English said.
"We're not going to make headway with the UK government on these issues. In my discussions with Mrs May earlier in the year that was pretty clear, so we're focusing on building the relationships for post-Brexit when, they've signalled, they're going to be looking for closer trade relationships with New Zealand.
"We believe it provides an opportunity for rebuilding some of those historical ties that may enable us to get better access for Kiwis."
The relationship with a Britain that was outside the EU "could be better than the relationship with them while they've been inside the EU and bound by the EU rules but also affected by the politics that's gone with Britain being unhappy about Britain being in the EU and wanting to leave".