US President Donald Trump has signed legislation that will make it easier for New Zealanders to trade or invest in the world's biggest economy.
The so-called Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors Act - or Kiwi Act - allows New Zealanders to apply for E-1 and E-2 trade and investment visas. The act grants reciprocal treatment to US nationals.
"The Kiwi Act will increase trade and investment between the United States and New Zealand and will benefit both our countries," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement. She expects the legislation to be a "big boost" to New Zealand businesses.
The E-1 and E-2 visas will allow New Zealand nationals who qualify to enter the US multiple times over two years without having to apply for a new visa each time they enter the US (with an option to renew on a rolling basis).
The visas cover individuals seeking to engage in substantial trade and investment activities in the US. Spouses and dependents of visa holders are also permitted to travel on derivative E visas.
Ardern said the US is critically important to New Zealand's interests and the act will help develop closer economic ties. She said officials will now work with the US State Department to ensure the act can be implemented as soon as possible so that New Zealanders can start applying for the visas.
US Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown welcomed the legislation.
"This is a historic day for the United States and New Zealand partnership. Today's announcement is a testament to the long-standing friendship and economic cooperation between the United States and New Zealand," he said.
According to Brown, the legislation - which received bipartisan US support "demonstrates the United States' continuing recognition of the value of Kiwi investment and innovation."