What does Donald Trump's new visa law mean for Kiwis?

US Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown says the new visa law signed by US President Donald Trump will "make bilateral commerce even easier". 

Mr Trump has signed a new law allowing Kiwis better business access to the United States, which was welcomed on Thursday by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

The signing of the Knowledge Innovators and Worthy Investors Act (which just happens to spell KIWI when abbreviated) gives New Zealanders access to E1 and E2 visas, the latter which allows an individual to enter and work inside of the US based on an investment. 

"The KIWI Act allows eligible New Zealanders to take advantage of a special visa class that is designed to facilitate business and innovation in the United States.  This is called the E1/E2 Treaty Trader Investment visa," Mr Brown told Newshub. 

He tweeted his excitement over the new law on Wednesday, calling it a "great victory for NZ/US business" with an image of President Trump signing the KIWI Act. He says Mr Trump "signed it right away". 

"The new law is only available to certain countries that have a bilateral treaty with the US," says Mr Brown. "The bottom line is, if you are interested in expanding your business to the USA or investing in a company there, it just got easier." 

The new law  which got bipartisan support from both Republicans and Democrats in US Congress - will "make bilateral commerce even easier," Mr Brown says, between two countries that "already enjoy a strong economic relationship". 

The E1 and E2 visas allow New Zealanders to visit the US to "develop or direct business operations," Mr Brown explains. "Like any non-immigrant visa, there are some particular qualifications, which will be worked out now that the KIWI Act has been signed into law."

To qualify, Kiwis must meet three criteria:

  • The person must be a New Zealand national (or national of another country that qualifies for E1/E2 visas)
  • The person must work for or own a business enterprise that qualifies under the treaty
  • The person must personally qualify

Mr Brown warns there is a lot of paper work involved, but says it will make overseas business and investment "easier for everyone". However, details of the new law are still under discussion. 

"Everyone is working to realise this opportunity as soon as possible, but as with all governments and bureaucracies, there are a lot of things to consider before it is fully implemented," he said. 

"We already have a pretty nice flow of trade traffic on this two-way street.  Think of the E1/E2 visas as taking out a few of the speed bumps along the way.  The trade gets easier, more efficient. That's the goal here." 

"We're both big agricultural producers, and we also enjoy the benefits of imports and exports in that area, sending you equipment and services while eating lots of NZ food and drinking lots of NZ wine!"