More than 200,000 people have signed online petitions calling for the British government to set up a global freedom of movement travel zone between the UK and Commonwealth countries.
The Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organisation and the Commonwealth Exchange wanta visa free agreement between Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The groups argue that recent surveys show that 70% of Australians, 75% of Canadians, 82% of New Zealanders, and 58% of people in the UK support the measure.
The UK Parliament petition has to collect 100,000 signatures to trigger a debate in Parliament, but the Home Office has made a written response to the plea.
Freedom of movement
“The United Kingdom values its existing close co-operation with Australia, Canada and New Zealand. There are already a number of schemes which nationals of those countries can take advantage of in order to come to the UK to work,” said a spokesman.
“Citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Canada can also apply for work visas in the normal way. In 2015 these countries were, respectively, second, fifth and sixth in the number of work visas issued by the UK. However, when population is taken into account, the ratio of work visas issued is higher for these three countries than for any of the other top ten countries.”
Supporters of the campaigns want freedom of movement between the four countries along the same lines as Britain’s agreements with the European Union.
“Because of the unique relationship and socio-economic bonds that the countries share, we believe that each can benefit from a free movement agreement with each other, similar to the policies of the European Union and the Trans-Tasman arrangement between Australia and New Zealand,” said a spokesman.
“We propose that the governments finalise agreements which make it possible for citizens to move freely with no restrictions regarding work permits or visas.”
Canada already admits visitors from the UK, Australia and New Zealand on a basic visa, providing they have a passport, are healthy, do not claim social security and have no criminal record.