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Will NZ migration to UK grow?

Researcher Dr Rosemary Baird

London is keen to have more Kiwis come and stay longer. But probably the view is not shared by the rest of the UK.

During the New Zealand Prime Minister’s recent visit to the UK, the mayor of London supported a possible bilateral trade that may allow skilled Kiwis to stay longer in the UK. However, the UK prime minister hasn’t shown any such inclination.

Highly enthusiastic Ben Johnson, London’s mayor, wants a “bilateral labour-mobility zone” between New Zealand and Britain.

Currently, skilled New Zealand citizens can obtain Youth Mobility visa and work in the UK for up to two years. They are required to return to New Zealand when their two-year visa expires.

“It is quite difficult sometimes for New Zealanders who want to work here to stay on and contribute in the way that they might,” Boris told media.

“By contrast, you can come from France or Croatia or wherever it happens to be – Slovenia or any one of the 28 EU [European Union] countries now – without any hindrance whatever.”

Boris’ comments  have raised an intriguing possibility of Kiwis regaining greater access to extended residence in the UK, a University of Canterbury (UC) management researcher says.

The 20th century saw a gradual parting of ways between New Zealand and the United Kingdom in defence, trade and, more recently, migration.

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Researcher Dr Rosemary Baird

UC researcher Dr Rosemary Baird says unless New Zealanders have an ancestry passport or a European spouse it is difficult to stay in the UK for any longer than the two years the tourist visa allows.

“But the two-year tourist visa still attracts large numbers of Kiwis on their OE. London, in particular, contains vast numbers of New Zealanders, living with their Australian cousins, in large expat-rich areas in Earl’s Court, Shepherd’s Bush and, more recently, Wandsworth.

“Although some Kiwis do make the transition from visitor to permanent resident many Kiwis work to travel – determined to milk the last ounce of European adventure out of their two years sojourn.

“As a result their focus is usually on personal experiences rather than on becoming part of English society. If longer stays become more accessible, Kiwis might be inclined to migrate in a more intentional and long term manner.

“Perhaps Mayor Johnson’s proposal anticipates that longer term stays could encourage Kiwis to contribute to London communities at a grass roots community level.”

However, the British Prime Minister David Cameron has tightened immigration policy since coming to power.

Young New Zealanders keen to live in the UK after the initial two-year youth mobility visa expires need to go back to New Zealand and migrate to the UK if they meet the strict criteria led out.

While the British prime minister did not give any hints of possibly relaxing the immigration policies for Kiwis, his New Zealand counter-part seemed to  understand Britain’s priorities.

“He (the British PM) is just trying to deal with a broader migration issue which is challenging for the UK,” New Zealand prime minister John Key said after his meeting with David Cameron.

“With their position with Europe they have enormous numbers of people that can actually freely, and as of right, come here to the UK and that is putting stress on their system, so we need to acknowledge that,” John told media.

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