Immigrants stuck overseas with visas to live, work and study in New Zealand say their lives have been "left in limbo" as the country's border remains closed to all but citizens and residents.
Newshub spoke to two different people on fixed-term visas who are either unable to return to New Zealand, or unable to bring their wife and children over.
Shaun Trollip's family decided to move to New Zealand from South Africa in October and were granted visas this year but the border closure which has left his wife and children stranded.
He holds a 3-year Essential Skills Visa and has a full-time, permanent position in Auckland, arriving in New Zealand on January 29 to get everything set up.
The family's savings were spent on their residency applications, renting a house in Bucklands Beach and buying furniture, appliances and cars.
His wife Mandy and sons aged 16 and 5 were granted three-year spousal and student visas, issued on March 13, but are now stuck in South Africa with only their suitcases after their flight on March 29 was cancelled.
The family's home in South Africa was sold with their vehicles, excess furniture and appliances with the rest of their belongings packed into a container on March 20th which is now bound for Auckland.
His wife had resigned from her job with plans to move to New Zealand with the children on March 27 and can’t claim unemployment benefits despite no form of income and limited funds available, which will only last a couple more weeks.
Their medical insurance was cancelled in anticipation of leaving for New Zealand and the family do not have sufficient money to reinstate it.
Family friends are currently assisting them with accommodation on a farm and remain completely isolated during the lockdown in South Africa.
Trollip told Newshub he can understand that somebody on a work visa is way, way down the Government's list of priorities, but says the impending uncertainty around when they will be reunited is unreasonable.
"What I've said from the beginning, sort out your residents, do whatever you need to do, and then the rest of the people who have a valid reason to be here, they should put us into a quarantine queue.
"For me and everybody else whose lives are in limbo, the least they can do is a quarantine queue, and say this is your number, these the dates, but to just leave us with nothing is completely wrong."
Trollip says it's terrible being away from his two children who he video chats with twice a day to try and spend as much time as he can with them but "it's not the same".
"On Saturday night, my son woke up from a nightmare screaming for me and what does my wife do?" he said.
Immigration New Zealand confirmed to Newshub that Trollip requested an exception to the border restrictions, on behalf of his wife and children, on two occasions.
The first request was declined after it was determined the Trollip family had not yet entered New Zealand and were not ordinarily residents here; therefore, they did not meet the partner/dependent border exception criteria.
The subsequent request included more information about the family’s situation and was considered on humanitarian grounds.
INZ said it took into account a range of factors when considering the request, including their connection to New Zealand and to the place they are currently located but determined the family’s circumstances were not of an exceptional humanitarian nature and therefore, they did not meet exception criteria.
Telecommunications technician Jaskaran Singh has been living in New Zealand for five years and holds a current work visa. He was in the process of applying for his residency visa when the border shut while he was in India visiting family for the second time during that time.
When he heard of plans to close the border, he tried to get a ticket back to New Zealand at any cost but none were available before his departure date of March 23.
His employer, who he has been with for four years, is waiting for him to resume work but Singh is concerned his position won't be held for much longer.
"My job won't be secure for long waits," Singh told Newshub. "After spending five years in New Zealand, my struggle and contribution will be useless."
"We do not know what to do about our homes, cars and other possessions. our belongings are in New Zealand."
He is pleading with the Government to be proactive, asking officials to treat him and other immigrants as residents.
"Take responsibility to give us some guidance, hold our hand because it's a very emotional time. A long delay can leave us with no hope."
An Immigration New Zealand spokesperson confirmed the Government’s current border restrictions mean that people on temporary visas who are currently offshore are not able to come to New Zealand unless they meet the strict border exception criteria.
There are a limited number of exceptions for other travellers who should seek approval from Immigration New Zealand before travelling. This includes partners, dependent children aged 24 years and under and legal guardians of New Zealand citizens and residents, as well as Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live in New Zealand.
Exceptions may be granted where people have a critical purpose for travel to New Zealand, including essential health workers, other essential workers who are specifically agreed to by the New Zealand Government, Samoan and Tongan citizens making essential travel, New Zealand-based partners and dependent children aged 19 years and under of a work or student visa holder who is in New Zealand and critical humanitarian reasons.
Individuals who believe they meet the exceptions criteria need to submit a request for an exception to the border restrictions.
If the circumstances are considered exceptional and justify travel to New Zealand for a critical purpose, individuals will be invited to apply for a visitor visa, or to vary their existing visa to allow them to travel.
The spokesperson said the health and wellbeing of New Zealand to ensure the spread of COVID-19 is minimised and remains the number one priority at the moment.