Better access to the United States for New Zealand businesspeople and investors is a step closer after Congress passed legislation that would allow Kiwis to apply for special visas.

The Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors Act (Kiwi Act), which now just needs the signature of US President Donald Trump to pass it into law, means eligible New Zealanders can enter the US on E-1 and E-2 visas.

The visas would allow multiple entry to the US for two years without having to apply for new visa each time, and the ability to renew the visa on a rolling basis.

Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said the passage of the legislation through Congress yesterday was a major step.


"The United States is a key strategic partner for New Zealand. If approved, these visas would improve access to the US for New Zealand businesspeople and investors, further developing our trading relationship to the benefit of both countries," Peters said.

New Zealand-United States Council chairman Leon Grice said New Zealand exporters and entrepreneurs had been calling for better visa access to the US for many years.

"New Zealand exporters and entrepreneurs have incurred significant immigration legal costs in the past building their business in the US and this act lowers the barriers to their success in the US market."

The council credited the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC for its long-standing lobbying, and US Ambassador Scott Brown in Wellington, for the success of the campaign.

"It is a good day for the NZ-US bilateral relationship," Grice said.