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PM pleads case to Cameron on visa changes

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/04/2016

Prime Minister John Key © Getty Images Prime Minister John Key Prime Minister John Key has pleaded New Zealand's case to his British counterpart David Cameron as new labour rules in the United Kingdom look set to hit some Kiwis living and working there.

Mr Key met with Mr Cameron in the United States last week, where both leaders were attending the Nuclear Security Summit.

The UK government is introducing a raft of new restrictions on non-European migrants on tier 2 employer-sponsored skilled-worker visas - New Zealanders included.

There'll be increased salary thresholds if they want to stay in the UK for longer than six years and they'll also have to pay a new annual National Health Service surcharge.

In addition, employers hiring non-EU migrants will be hit with a new annual charge.

"I expressed the view that these restrictions do little to relieve the broader immigration pressures the UK is facing, while they are seen by many as targeting countries like New Zealand," Mr Key said on Monday.

"In our view such laws do not reflect the close ties between our countries and I urge Prime Minister Cameron to consider options to address this."

Mr Key concedes immigration is a big issue for the UK.

"They are clamping down on the bits they can control and unfortunately we're collateral damage as part of that," he said.

"As I tried to point out to (Mr Cameron), there's a long history between our two countries and I really thought New Zealanders had made a strong contribution and they highly value the chance to go to the UK."

Mr Key doesn't think there's much chance the policy will be changed dramatically, but he's hopeful the UK government will take a more sympathetic approach.

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