New Zealand Visa Bill Aims to Increase Economic Growth, Jobs

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Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the bipartisan Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors (KIWI) Act, which would extend trade and investor visas to New Zealand citizens to increase international business between the United States and New Zealand.

The legislation comes as the United States and New Zealand mark 75 years of diplomatic relations, and would allow New Zealand citizens to apply for trade (E-1) and investor (E-2) temporary entry visas.

“Supporting over 2,100 jobs in Hawai‘i last year alone, New Zealand’s visitor industry continues to build on our strong cultural and economic ties to the Indo-Asia Pacific region,” said Sen. Hirono. “By extending trade and investment visas, the KIWI Act will help further spur economic growth and job creation in Hawai‘i and across the Unities States.”

“New Zealand has always been a strong ally of the United States and both nations have benefitted tremendously from our continued economic cooperation,” said Sen. Lee. “To help build on that relationship, I am proud to cosponsor the KIWI Act which makes it easier for nonimmigrant New Zealanders to invest in America.”


New Zealand is one of our nation’s important strategic and economic partners, with total foreign direct investment from New Zealand to the United States valued at over half a billion dollars. However, New Zealand businesses have found that the lack of access to E-1 and E-2 visas has hampered their ability to increase trade and investment in the United States. By allowing New Zealanders to apply for these visas, the KIWI Act aims to expand business and investment opportunities between the two nations.

“As we did in 2014 when it was first introduced, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii supports legislation to extend E-1 and E-2 temporary visas to New Zealand to promote trade and investment in the United States,” said Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i President & CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara. “Increasing access to E-1 and E-2 visas will increase the ability of New Zealand businesses to grow, trade with, and work and invest in the United States, which will have a reciprocal benefit to our nation and Hawai‘i’s economy.”

“I would like to express our gratitude to Sens. Hirono and Lee for sponsoring this important piece of legislation which will assist New Zealand businesses to trade with and invest in the United States,” said New Zealand Ambassador to the United States Tim Groser. “The United States is a key strategic partner for New Zealand. The opening of a New Zealand Consulate in Sen. Hirono’s home state of Hawai‘i in 2014 is just one example of how the New Zealand—United States relationship has gone from strength to strength. These visas will help New Zealand traders and investors grow their businesses in the United States market and create American jobs. Improved access to the United States for New Zealand businesspeople and investors will continue to strengthen our strong bilateral relationship. We hope that Congress will recognize the benefits of this bill to both New Zealand and the United States, and move to pass this legislation as quickly as possible.”


“Americans and New Zealanders collaborate closely in business, technology, research, security and entertainment, yet the lack of access to trader and investor visas has been a serious impediment to increased economic growth and greater bilateral cooperation,” said United States| New Zealand Council Chairman Edward Farrell. “The E-1 and E-2 visa categories were created expressly to benefit the U.S. economy by promoting capital infusion and job creation. The United States currently allows temporary entry for traders from more than 50 countries (under E-1 visas) and for investors from more than 80 countries (under E-2 visas). New Zealand—an important partner, supporter and friend to the United States and an influential thought leader throughout the world—should be offered the same eligibility. It’s in our shared best interests and it’s long overdue. Extending E-1 and E-2 visas to New Zealanders would significantly increase bilateral business activity, encourage greater investment and economic growth in the United States, create more American jobs and related benefits, and strengthen US-NZ bilateral relationship.”

The KIWI Act is also cosponsored by Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

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