Kiwi migrants hoping for wider border exemptions in NZ to see families again

There are calls for wider border exemptions for families of migrants living in New Zealand who are have now gone almost a year without seeing any loved ones.

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It comes after the Government announced this week 1000 international students will be given exemptions. Source: 1 NEWS

One Kiwi in such hardship is former lawyer and PhD student Justin Sobion.

Sobion and his wife, Aurelia, a nurse, were living in New Zealand but went overseas to visit family in late 2019. He returned first with Aurelia expecting to come back only a few weeks after him but then the borders closed.

“We feel like we have a relationship with our phones not with our other half,” he said.

They were supposed to be separated for three weeks but it's been almost a year, having been told they don't meet the criteria for the current strict border exemptions.

“Right now, we can't plan anything in our lives,” he said.

It's a plight many in New Zealand can relate to, Immigration advisor Katy Armstrong said.

“I've got nurses, I've got engineers, I've got clinical psychologists, high end IT professionals, I've got tradies,” Armstrong said.

“We had a guy stand up in a public meeting who is a plumber teaching our young plumbers and yet he cannot get his wife here.”

Every day it gets harder with Sobion getting salt in the wound from moments like watching his home country's cricket team be let in.

Another came just this week when the Government announced 1000 international students will be given border exemptions.

Armstrong said there should be more exemptions to be made for partners and family members.

“Fifty rooms a fortnight would be better than nothing.”

While the Government introduced border exemptions for some temporary work visa holders last year, the criteria is strict.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said the Government will keep reviewing its immigration settings while ensuring the border controls remain as a first line of defence against Covid-19.

But it's small comfort for those stuck apart from loved ones, with no end in sight.