• Max Bradford

Immigration Minister Max Bradford today announced that the number of countries whose citizens require Transit Visas when passing through New Zealand is to increase from 24 to 70.

The increase takes effect from 1 July 1998. It follows the annual review of Transit Visa regulations which apply to people passing through New Zealand for less than 24 hours on their way to or from other countries in the Pacific region.

'The decision to add the 46 countries to the existing list whose citizens require Transit Visas was made to minimise the risk of people who do not meet our usual criteria for entry using a transit stop-over in New Zealand as a means to obtain long-term entry," Mr Bradford said.

"There have been occasions when people without a visa to travel to New Zealand have bought tickets to other destinations in the Pacific, but failed to board their connecting flight after a transit stop here."

Mr Bradford said the increase in the number of countries whose citizens require transit visas complements other measures to manage immigration risks and to clamp down on refugee scams as provided for under the Coalition Agreement.

The countries added to the transit visa requirement list are: two Latin-American countries (Colombia and Ecuador), 11 former Soviet Union countries (excluding the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), and 33 African countries (the African continent excluding Egypt, Zimbabwe and the Republic of South Africa). A full list follows below.

Mr Bradford said the Marshall Islands, Niue and Tokelau have also been added to the list of Pacific destinations for which Transit Visas will be needed when travellers pass through New Zealand.

?However, as Niueans and Tokelauans are New Zealand citizens, they will not be affected by this change,? he said.

?Passengers with Australian visas who are Australia-bound will also be unaffected by the Transit Visa requirements.?

Because the amount of work involved to process Transit Visas is similar to Visitors? Visa applications, they will attract the same fee of $NZ60.