New Zealand dispels a myth about entry Down Under

Q&A

October 14, 2007|By San Jose Mercury News

I've heard that anyone with an old felony conviction - even for a white-collar or nonviolent crime - is barred from visiting New Zealand. Is that true?

There are no hard and fast rules regarding entry into New Zealand by convicted felons, according to a spokesman for Immigration New Zealand.

Most U.S. citizens can visit the country for up to 90 days with a passport, but anyone with a criminal conviction must also obtain a visa. As part of the application process, you will need to provide details of the conviction and information regarding the arrest and release from prison.

Print out visa forms at immi gration.govt.nz, or contact the New Zealand Consulate General.

We're told that each case is considered individually and that a felony conviction does not automatically exclude a person from receiving a visa.

We're fans of writer Dick Francis and would like to visit London during the steeplechase season. How can we find information?

Steeplechase horse races are popular in England, and although London is not near the two tracks where the biggest races are held each year - the Grand National at Aintree near Liverpool and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, north of Bristol - you can still have a Dick Francis experience near London.

Ascot Racecourse, west of London, has three jump meetings scheduled next year: Jan. 19, Feb. 16 and April 11. You can catch a train from the London Waterloo station to Ascot. The travel time is 46 minutes, and the track is a short walk from the train station. For tickets: www.ascot.co.uk.

Newbury Racecourse, also west of London, has eight jump events scheduled for 2008, including two in January, two in February, three in March and one in April. Take the train from Paddington station, then change trains at Reading (get off at the racecourse station). The travel time is about one hour, 10 minutes. The track is next to the train station. For tickets: www.newbury-racecourse. com.

For train timetables, go to nationalrail.co.uk.

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