The majority of people in a poll carried out in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand say they back a policy of allowing people in each of the nations to work freely in each other’s country.
The study, carried out by the Commonwealth Society, comes ahead of changes to UK visa rules, which will make it more difficult for Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders to settle in Britain.
However, more than eight in 10 New Zealanders, seven out of 10 Canadians and Australians, and almost six in 10 Britons agreed there should be reciprocal working rights between the countries.
Commonwealth Society president, Lord Howell of Guildford, told The Guardian: “This polling is invaluable as it shows the views and wishes of these fellow Commonwealth friends in strong support of closer ties. Governments must find ways to build them and to remove the obstacles that stand in their way.”
The number of people from the three Commonwealth countries in the UK has fallen since the Government began tightening the regulations for non-EU overseas citizens coming to Britain to work. The rules will become even stricter next month, with the new Tier 2 visa earning requirement of £35,000 a year coming into effect for people who want to settle permanently in the UK.
In addition, the £200 NHS surcharge is also being extended to include Australians and New Zealanders who are in the UK for longer than six months. They were previously exempt from the charge.
Both Australian and New Zealand politicians have criticised the changes, which are set to make the UK a less attractive destination for people from Commonwealth countries.
Report author, Tim Hewish, said: “Collectively we possess a unique bond which needs protecting. We share a language, a legal system, and a Queen.”