Kiwis concerned over proposed UK immigration policy

Commuters in London's Leicester Square. Changes to UK laws could put expats at risk. Photo / iStock
Commuters in London's Leicester Square. Changes to UK laws could put expats at risk. Photo / iStock

The Government says it will continue to lobby UK ministers over the impact a proposed strict immigration policy might have on Kiwi workers.

An online petition against the policy change is garnering big support among Britons with about 76,000 people signing within six days.

New Zealanders are caught up in the latest major policy change which will see all migrants from outside European Union countries earning less than £35,000 ($74,400) a year not allowed to stay in the country for longer than five years.

Read more:
New Zealanders could be kicked out of UK if they don't earn £35,000

It comes into effect in April.

Today a spokesman for Immigration Minister Murray McCully said they were in conversation with their British counterparts on working arrangements for expat Kiwis.

"New Zealand has raised concerns about the ongoing impact that UK immigration policy has on New Zealanders and we will continue to make representations on behalf of New Zealanders living and working in the UK," he said.

Prime Minister John Key raised immigration issues during his meeting with UK Home Secretary Theresa May last year, as did Mr McCully when he met with UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond earlier in February.

However, the spokesman said he did not think many New Zealanders would be impacted as most were working in the UK on two-year Youth Mobility Scheme or on ancestry visas. Others held skilled work permits and likely to be earning above the income threshold.

There are about 200,000 New Zealanders living in the UK.

The number of Kiwis travelling to the United Kingdom on a long-term basis has fallen from around 18,000 in 2000 to 8500 in 2014, mostly as a result of previous changes which have restricted job opportunities.

A rule change in 2010 required New Zealanders to have a job and a sponsoring employer before they could gain a skilled migrant visa.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has said on several occasions that New Zealanders and Australians should be given the same rights to live and work in the UK as people from the European Union.

Around 40,000 non-EU migrants are anticipated to be affected by the change in policy which targets low-skilled workers who attempt to gain permanent residency, which can be applied for after five years.

- NZ Herald

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