Kiwi expats face tougher UK entry requirements

Published:  1 Apr at 6 PM
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New entry rules announced by the British government are expected to make it tougher for New Zealanders to work and live in the UK.

Kiwi would-be expats are questioning the new restrictions recently announced by the UK government, asking whether they are being treated unfairly in comparison with the benefits available to UK expats in New Zealand. New Zealanders in the UK are being forced out of the free National Health Service system and are only allowed to stay in the UK if they earn over NZ$74,000 a year.

More than 150,000 Kiwis came to the UK last year, although most visits lasted less than six months.The popular Youth Mobility Scheme accounted for 8,000 of the total, and the Tier2 General visa was used by only 600 people. Both of these two groups contain expats who stay for more than half a year and are the most affected by the changes.

From May, Kiwis staying over the six-month limit will be forced to pay a surcharge in order to access the NHS, with those on the former scheme paying NZ$326 and the 8,000 on visas paying NZ$435. The reason given is that the NHS I under huge financial strain at present, but many Kiwis are questioning the supposition that the two countries have a reciprocal health agreement.

UK governmental changes to the visa system are also causing controversy on the other side of the world, as employers wishing to offer jobs to Kiwis will be forced from April 2017 to pay a levy of NZ$2,000. Fears are being expressed that the new levy will make British employers less willing to offer jobs to New Zealand expats.

Experienced expat employees on the Tier 2 visa will have to be earning at least NZ$63,000 by April 2017, a significant increase in the present qualifying salary level. Temporary exemptions will be given to certain professions such as education and healthcare, but the higher salary levels will kick in by July 2019.
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