Support grows for non-visa travel to UK from close Commonwealth countries

by Ray Clancy on September 19, 2016

More than 200,000 people have signed petitions started in a bid to persuade the UK Government to negotiate a free movement treaty with Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

It has always been a sore point that people from these three Commonwealth countries with hundreds of years of historic and cultural links with the UK need a visa to live and work in the country yet those from European Union member countries did not.

UK LondonThis could change now that the UK has decided to leave the EU. The petitions suggest there is support for more freedom for people from these countries to move to the UK to work and live.

Almost 162,000 have signed the petition started by the Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation (CFMO) and a separate parliament e-petition has more than 45,000 signatures.

Shared culture, language and values are the reasons in favour of a freedom of movement between the countries, according to the parliamentary petition, an argument shared by the CFMO.

Citizens from the UK, Australia and New Zealand can already travel to Canada without a visitor visa provided they have a passport, are healthy, have the money to support themselves and do not have a criminal record and campaigners would like to see this kind of system agreed with all the countries involved.

‘We have the opportunity to advance our immigration policies, as four independent nations, and re-establish the free movement protocols that have lay dormant in our parliaments for so long, the opportunity to establish free movement between the newly independent United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada,’ said CFMO founder James Skinner.

‘The opportunities ahead of us are limitless. We have the chance to generate greater prosperity and greater relations between our four nations, and all it takes is the diplomatic cooperation of our governments to strive for a greater future for us and generations to come,’ he added.

He revealed that support for the move is coming from a wide variety of people that include ordinary members of the public as well as high profile politicians and diplomats.

Also supporting the idea is Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. On a visit to London she said that the ability to work, travel and study in the UK and vice versa is an essential part of the close relationship between the two countries.

‘Should we be in a position to conclude a free trade agreement after Brexit well then obviously improved access can be the subject of a free trade agreement. Australia is a significant investor in London in particular and the UK is a significant investor in Australia so we have an interest in ensuring that this relationship endures and that’s one way that it will do so,’ she explained.

There is concern that is has become harder and more costly for Australians to move to the UK. Indeed, the number of Australians living and working in the UK has fallen by 40% since 2008. Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and South Africans have been affected by the general policy in the UK to restrict immigration from non EU countries.

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