From next month young New Zealanders heading to Britain will be able to work there for two years, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced on Tuesday.

At present they can go to the United Kingdom for two years under a Working Holiday Visa which allows them to work for one year of their stay.

From November 27 there will be a new visa category under the Youth Mobility Scheme allowing them to work for the whole of the two-year period.

Clark said the new arrangement was formally recognised this week in an exchange of letters by the British and New Zealand governments.

She said the letters followed “many constructive exchanges” over the details of the new scheme.

“This is great news for New Zealanders aged 18 to 30 wishing to experience life in the UK,” Clark said.

“British ministers and officials have recognised the low risk and high value New Zealanders bring to the UK during their travels.”

Clark said the British government had conducted a wide review of its immigration system.

“The New Zealand government worked hard to maintain and improve the good level of access New Zealanders have traditionally enjoyed to Britain,” she said.

“The Youth Mobility scheme is based on reciprocal visa provisions and the number of countries able to participate in the new scheme is significantly fewer than under current settings.”

Clark said about 5000 New Zealanders went to the UK each year on working holiday visas.

“The opportunity to build their skills is highly valued and of wider benefit to New Zealand when our young people return home, bringing their skills and experience with them,” she said.

“We appreciate that the British government has taken our views into account in its new immigration system.”

The British government recently made two other decisions on New Zealanders’ access:

* New Zealanders continue to have visa free access for up to six months; and

* Those with British ancestral links can continue to live and work in the UK for up to five years on an ancestry visa.