US & Canada

'Commonwealth' movement petition gains 35,000 backers

Composite image of three flags Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Free movement among the UK and these three countries?

A group of Commonwealth residents advocating for free movement among the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, has collected 35,000 signatures.

The Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization (CFMO) is calling on those governments to remove visa restrictions and work permits among their citizens.

The Canadian group cites cites similar agreements in the European Union and between Australia and New Zealand.

UK Parliament debated Australia visa rules in January.

There are a total of fifty-three sovereign states in the Commonwealth of Nations, almost all tied together by previous direct or indirect British rule, including India, South Africa and Belize.

The group says those four are being considered because of their shared language, government and common law legal system and similar cultural values, according to the petition.

Image copyright Change.org
Image caption The petition has already gained 35,000 signatures

"We are virtually the same people," CFMO director James Skinner told CBC News, referring to the four countries. "The only thing that divides us is the cover of our passports."

Mr Skinner founded the organisation after his own experience moving from the UK to Melbourne, Australia, where he encountered difficulties establishing permanent residency.

He ultimately ended up in Vancouver, Canada, but he does not hold permanent residency.

"We've had that Commonwealth tie for generations and decades in the past, we've stuck together through thick and thin. [We] share the same head of state, the same native language, the same respect for the common law," Skinner told the CBC.

The organisation plans to send the petition to the governments of Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

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