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'They shouldn't treat us like we don't belong' - NZ residents stuck in India plead for help

"They shouldn't treat us like we don't belong to New Zealand" - the words of a New Zealand resident, stuck in India.

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It's been another day of massive Covid numbers in India, with 379,000 new cases reported today. Source: 1 NEWS

1 NEWS has been contacted by countless residents and visa holders, who're desperate to return to their lives here, as our Government's now made it close to impossible for them to get back.

From today, new restrictions for "very high risk countries" mean only citizens and their family members are able to re-enter the country.

Until recently, permanent residents have been able to return, but some say it hasn't been easy to arrange.

Jatinder Kaur's lived in New Zealand since 2015, and on a trip to visit her husband in India just before the pandemic began, she got pregnant, and didn't want to risk travelling home.

She waited for her husband's residency to be approved, so they could travel home together, and then finally secured an MIQ space for next month before the new restrictions were introduced.

"They shouldn't treat us like we don't belong to New Zealand we are paying our taxes, we are doing every thing New Zealand citizen people do," she told 1 NEWS.

"Now if we cancel our MIQ, and I don't know when this border situation will be over and when MIQ will be available".

Those on temporary work or student visas were able to apply for exemptions to re-enter the country before the new rules came in, but now, those applications are void.

"We've lived in New Zealand for five years," Jagdeep Singh said, "New Zealand is our primary place... our only source of income."

He's on a post study work visa, as is his wife, and they left for what was meant to be a quick trip to India in early 2020, to introduce their new baby to his parents.

Now he says, "I am running very low on cash as I only planned for a one month trip.

"We applied 8-10 times for an exemption but every time, declined."

For five months after they got stuck they continued to pay rent, and even now, they're still paying other bills here, like car insurance.

"All our belongings like furniture, electronic equipment, our car, our original documents and our clothes are left in New Zealand," he said.

Another temporary visa holder, Eldhose Paul, says he invested a lot of money in moving to New Zealand, paying expensive international study fees.

"I took this huge amount from the bank as an educational loan, and now I am in a situation where I am unable to pay the loan interest.

"It's huge money that we can't repay by working here in India," he said.

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Sujatha Selwyn, says she’s missing her son in NZ but cannot find flights or MIQ spots to come home. Source: 1 NEWS

He hasn't been able to utilise any of his post study work visa.

Mohammad Anas, is in a similar position.

"My family is dependent on me, and the bank is putting pressure on me.

"I invested approximately $55,000, it's a huge amount for me, and I took an education loan which is still unpaid."

He said, "we are stuck, and it’s not our fault, it’s a global pandemic".

Alongside other temporary visa holders, he's calling to be let back in when the outbreak in India calms down, and for his visa to be extended to match the time he's lost.

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There’s a continuing lack of oxygen in desperately overcrowded hospitals. Source: Breakfast

Pardeep Singh says the outbreak's under control in the state of Punjab, where he's staying with his parents.

But he says he hasn't been able to get a job to make up for the work he's missing in New Zealand, and he's facing huge financial hardship.

"New Zealand is the place where I have my life, my friends, my workplace my career," he said.

He's lived in New Zealand since 2015 and was set to apply for residency after what was meant to be a quick trip to India in early 2020.

He wasn't going to visit again for two years.

He says his job, at Wellington's Te Papa museum, is still waiting for him to return.

"If I don't hurry up, maybe in the next month, there's a risk I lose that job.

"There are some migrant organisations in New Zealand which are advocating for us... but so far the Government's not provided any assurance to assist us.

"New Zealand is my home," Singh said.

"I want to go back to get into that position, of normality of life".

More than 100 travellers were expected from India this week, but an MIQ spokesperson said it's "highly likely that many of these returnees will not arrive in New Zealand because of the widespread disruption to flight schedules".

Of the 106 registered to arrive, 91 are permanent residents or temporary visa holders, who "will not be allowed to travel unless they are exempt from the new requirements".

They would need to be the partner, child, or parent of a citizen, or the parent of a dependent citizen.

Case numbers continue to spike in India, with 379,257 cases today, and 3,645 deaths.