Updated at 10:26 p.m.
Covington & Burling in Washington has signed up to lobby for another country looking to make it easier for its citizens to enter the United States.
New Zealand has hired Covington to help create "a legislative solution and strategy for facilitating greater trade and investment between the United States and New Zealand by improving temporary entry for New Zealanders into the United States," according to Foreign Agents Registration Act documents the firm filed this week with the U.S. Justice Department. The registration came less than a year after South Korea enlisted Covington to develop a legislative proposal for professional U.S. visas.
Under the six-month contract that started June 1, Covington is charging New Zealand $20,000 per month. Covington senior counsel Martin Gold, of counsels Muftiah McCartin and Brian Smith, and associate Erica Lai are handling the account.
"There are a range of visa categories available to a vast number of countries that New Zealanders don't have access to," Hawkins wrote. "We are exploring options to give New Zealanders equal treatment to those countries."
The E-1 visa for traders and E-2 visa for investors are two U.S. visas New Zealanders can't obtain. The special visas go to foreign investors or traders who are residents of a country that has a commerce treaty with the United States. New Zealand doesn't have one.
The United States also doesn't have a special visa for skilled workers from New Zealand. Instead, these residents must compete with other skilled workers from around the world for a U.S. visa known as the H1-B. The temporary visa has an annual cap of 65,000 workers worldwide.
In 2005, Covington helped Australia secure a U.S. visa agreement that allows 10,500 Australians each year to work temporarily in the United States. Only 900 Australians were successful in obtaining the H1-B in 2004, according to former Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile.Gold, who is the lead lobbyist on the New Zealand account, wasn't immediately available for comment. Gold wrote in the lobbying engagement letter that working with the country is a "privilege" for Covington.
"We very much appreciate your selecting our firm to assist you, and we look forward to working with you on this matter," Gold wrote.