Snedden on Chinese visas

November 22nd, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I blogged last Friday on the beatup over so called skipping or border checks for South China Airlines frequent flyers, and that in fact there was no relaxation of any border checks at all. The only thing that had happened was that customers could use their frequent flyer status as proof of not being poor, rather than a bank statement.

Martin Snedden of the Tourism Industry Association writes in the Herald on this issue:

Although citizens of 57 different countries who want to holiday in New Zealand can turn up at our airports and be issued with on-the-spot visas, Chinese visitors cannot. Immigration NZ has assessed the risk of criminal activity or absconding as being too high. But this risk attaches to only a very small number of Chinese visitors, so Immigration NZ is continually looking to adjust its screening processes to ease the way for visitors who fit within a high-value, low-risk profile.

A key point again – 57 countries are visa free. A check against criminal activity applies to all visitors, so really the issue is we require visas for people from countries where we are concerned they will try and remain in NZ illegally due to our higher standard of living. Hence why they need to prove they have $1,000 of funds for every month they plan to be here.

These visitors still have to meet criteria much more stringent than for most visitors. On arrival, they are still subject to the same border security processes as every other arriving passenger.

Yep the only difference is no bank statement required.

The profile of these Pearl cardholders is seasoned international travellers, generally in sound economic health, with strong ties to their homeland, and who, in the course of their international travels, will have successfully passed through many visa and security processes.

Exactly. To get frequent flyer status they are individuals with considerable funds and a history of travelling without problems.

This China Southern initiative should not be stand-alone. The principles of this agreement can, and should, be applied in a number of other high value, low risk target areas.

We benefit massively from people visiting New Zealand and spending money here. I’m all for expanding the agreement to other airlines.

Some in this country will always see something sinister in anything to do with China, but those of us in tourism are congratulating Immigration Minister Nathan Guy and Immigration NZ on this positive decision.

Xenophobia is what fueled this story, planted by NZ First.

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