Trump signs off improved NZ visa access

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says a US decision to grant New Zealanders improved access to business visas will boost trade between both countries. Photo: Lynn Grieveson.

New Zealanders have won improved visa access in the United States, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hailing the news as a "big boost" for Kiwi businesses.

President Donald Trump signed the KIWI Act into law on Thursday morning (NZT), marking the end of a years-long battle for New Zealand governments to gain better access for citizens planning to trade or invest in the US.

The Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors Act, as it is known in full, would give New Zealand citizens access to E-1 and E-2 business visas, allowing those with “substantial” investments inside the US to enter and work multiple times for two years.

US Ambassador Scott Brown said the signing was "a historic day" and testament to the long-standing friendship and economic ties between the US and New Zealand.

“With this addition of New Zealand to our eligible Treaty Traders and Investors visa [programme], we look forward to even greater bilateral commerce and entrepreneurship."

Bipartisan backing for the KIWI Act in the US Congress showed the "broad and unshakeable support" for bilateral relations, Brown said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern thanked Trump and the US Congress for signing the bill into law, saying improved visa access had been a longstanding goal for New Zealand and would increase trade and investment between the two countries.

“Lack of E1 and E2 visas has been a major issue for New Zealand business people wanting to access the US market. This act will be a big boost to New Zealand businesses," Ardern said.

New Zealand officials would now work with the US State Department to ensure the legislation could be implemented as swiftly as possible for those wanting visa access.