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New Zealanders in UK threatened by visa changes

by 1st Contact | Sep 27, 2011
  • Amidst pressure on the UK Government to find a solution to the high levels of unemployment, the tightening of visa rules for workers outside of the EU is threatening many New Zealanders’ rights to stay in Britain long-term. Up until now, New Zealanders working in the UK have been able to apply for “settlement” after five years, allowing them to confidently settle into careers, marry and have children.

    Consultation on proposals closed

    This reality seems highly likely to change, as the British government has just closed consultation on proposals to end automatic settlement and tighten the laws.

    More than 12 000 submissions were received from, amongst others, UK business groups concerned about training and investing in foreign talent if the workers can’t stay for long periods, as well as from New Zealand expats who fear having to uproot their families and move back to New Zealand.

    “It’s really hard to see how this change of regulations is going to really benefit the UK economy,” said Stephen Dee, the UK regional manager of KEA, a New Zealand expatriate network.

    April visa cap

    Changes in April saw the worldwide cap on non-EU immigrants set at 20 700 a year, and introduced a point system, with criteria including age, qualifications and earnings.

    Exceptions were made for high earners (over 150,000), those who fill a skills gap, intra-company transfers and those with “exceptional talent”.

    “Explore all possible routes”

    “The changes currently under review would still allow New Zealanders into Britain on two-year working holidays, or via the ancestry route,” says Robyn Cory of 1st Contact Visas.  “Outside those categories, a work visa would be hard to come by and most “Tier 2” visa holders would have to return home after five years.”

    “But it shouldn’t stop people from trying – they should explore all possible routes,” says Cory. “Some people are unaware that they qualify for an ancestry visa – in some cases, people can be British citizens and not know it! I would suggest speaking to a knowledgeable visa consultant to ascertain the best route. If you are a Kiwi already in the UK on a working visa and wondering how the changes might affect you, speak to a consultant who understand all the new rules and can best advise you.”

    If you might be affected by recent and proposed changes to UK visa rules, visit our visas section or call 0808 141 2290 to speak to a friendly and experienced visa consultant.

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

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