A British GP who has been on a work visa, based in Ōtaki near Wellington has expressed stress and frustration at the amount of time the Government is taking to grant him residency.
Harding Richards has been the GP based in Ōtaki for the past two years, he’s one of thousands waiting for residency as the Government has pressed pause to try and deal with the backlog.
Without residency you can't buy a house or fly in and out of the country to see family overseas.
There are growing pleas to the Government to pump in more resources and let people know what's going on.
“It's really frustrating, it's really stressful. At every point that I've expected some decision and some clarity from the Ministry of Immigration, they seem to move the goal posts and I just feel like I’m being kept in limbo," Richards says.
He tried to get the ball rolling just before the first Covid-19 lockdown last year.
“As a non-resident worker in New Zealand, I'm not able to buy a house, I'm not able to have my own home and also it would mean my family back in the UK that I’ve not seen face-to-face for the last two and-a-half years, I'd be much more confident about being able to go visit them," he says.
Richards is not easy to replace either, there are fears it could take more than a year and increase wait time in the town.
“What it means to us is that Harding is going to leave and that's a significant impact on our community and our practise,” says Kiwa Raureti, CEO of Ōtaki Medical Centre.
There are more than 25,000 people in the queue for residency and that's just for skilled migrants or people working in New Zealand and those people are slowly being processed.
Last week, Kris Faafoi, Minister of Immigration, announced new border exceptions for relations of some migrant workers after protests at Parliament.
“It doesn't go far enough. It’s great to be able to bring essential workers into the country but we need to be able to keep them,” Raureti says.