KIWI Act now in action

People work with lung inflation rig at Bio-engineering Institute

27 June 2019

New Zealand’s business and investment community can now apply for easier access to the United States.

The ‘KIWI Act’ - The Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors Act – was passed by the United States Congress last year, and the implementation process has been completed. It means New Zealanders can now apply for E1 and E2 trade and investment visas.

These visas allow qualifying New Zealand nationals to enter the US multiple times over two years without having to apply for a new visa each time they enter (with an option to renew on a rolling basis). 

They cover those who are seeking to engage in substantial trade and investment activities in America. Spouses and dependents are also permitted to travel on derivative E visas.

The US Ambassador to New Zealand, Scott Brown, said the visas would make trade between the two countries much easier.

"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." 

New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rt Hon Winston Peters, said when the legislation was passed “this is a major step and very much welcomed by the New Zealand Government. The United States is a key strategic partner for New Zealand.’’

He said the visas would improve access to the US for New Zealand businesspeople and investors, further developing the trading relationship to the benefit of both countries. It brings New Zealand into line with more than 80 other countries that benefit from them; Australians have been able to access the visas since 1991.

The NZ US Council Chairman, Leon Grice, said it was a significant achievement in the bilateral relationship. "For many years getting a visa to invest, create jobs or establish a business presence in the United States has been a costly barrier and in surveys of New Zealand exporters to the US it was often their number one concern.

"It also reflects the reality that New Zealand businesses are high-value job creators in the United States."

Once a company is also registered as a New Zealand E-1/E-2 treaty enterprise, it becomes much easier to transfer New Zealand executives, or employees with specialised knowledge, to the US company. Spouses can apply for unrestricted work authorisation and dependent children can enrol in school. 

The US is responsible for issuing the visas and those interested can visit the US Embassy website which has a step-by-step guide to applying for the visas. 

New Zealand Trade & Enterprise recommends that its customers consider seeking further professional advice, for guidance through the visa process. 

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