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NZers could be exempt from US travel ban

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/01/2017

New Zealanders could be exempt from US President Donald Trump's travel ban but the government is still unsure how the controversial ruling will be applied several days after it was announced.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully is directing all visa inquiries to the US Consulate General in Auckland while the New Zealand Embassy in Washington is still "urgently" working to determine how dual nationals will be affected.

An executive order signed by Mr Trump last week has suspended US entry for travellers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days.

The 90-day suspension has been complicated by multiple US court rulings with regard to green card holders and those with valid visas to enter from those seven countries.

The US refugee programme has also been suspended for 120 days, while an indefinite ban has been placed on refugees arriving from Syria.

"We are working to ensure NZ dual nationals are not disadvantaged and to ensure that New Zealanders are covered by any exemptions being offered," Mr McCully said.

It's believed exemptions may be in place for citizens of nations involved in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance with the US - New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson confirmed he had been assured the order would make no difference to British passports holders, irrespective of their country of birth or whether they hold another passport.

Australia and Canada have also publicly confirmed exemptions, leaving New Zealand the only Five Eyes nation yet to do so.

Prime Minister Bill English says processes are under way to ensure Kiwis won't have trouble at US borders.

As far as he's aware no one on a Kiwi passport has so far been caught up in the uncertainty, which has caused chaos at airports around the world.

Figures weren't immediately available on how many New Zealanders were born in or hold dual citizenship with one of the countries affected by the ban.

It's not clear if Mr English will discuss the travel ban or its implications for New Zealanders in a call with Mr Trump, reportedly due to happen this week.

Mr English said no call had been scheduled as yet, noting the process for a phone call had been "unpredictable".

Mr Trump has already spoken to a number of world leaders since becoming president almost two weeks ago, including Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week.

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