Family reunification border exemptions: How hundreds of healthcare workers can reunite

The Government has provided details of how hundreds of families who were separated by the border closure can be reunited under new border exemptions, as Newshub revealed

It's a fix for the anomaly which meant those who came in before the border closed couldn't bring their families in the usual way but those who came in after the borders shut could because they were granted an exemption. 

Some families were separated while in the process of moving to New Zealand, with some family members already here, and the other family members planning to move separately. 

As Newshub has previously reported, it meant some parents weren't able to see their children for more than a year, sparking concerns it might force important migrant healthcare workers to leave when we need them most. 

The border exemption, announced by Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi on Monday, means temporary migrants working in healthcare in New Zealand will be able to bring their partners and dependent children here. 

To be eligible, their family members in New Zealand must have more than 12 months remaining on their visa. Those who are eligible will be able to request a border exemption from April 30. 

Before the borders closed, many healthcare workers were able to bring their family with them when they moved to New Zealand. Those arriving now as a 'critical healthcare worker' are also able to do so. 

But a number of healthcare workers arrived just before or after the border closure, and were not able to bring their family with them at the time. That is the anomaly the Government wants to fix, after months of pressure and stories of heartbreak. 

Immigration NZ cannot process visas for people offshore, unless they have a border exemption, so their families have not been able to apply for a visa to travel to New Zealand. 

With this new exemption in place, those working in New Zealand's healthcare sector will once again be able to apply for visas to bring their families to live with them, thanks to the new exemption. 

The Government is also allowing some other highly-skilled, non-healthcare temporary workers into the country, to ensure we can retain highly-skilled workers necessary for the economic recovery. 

"We are in the midst of a global pandemic, which requires strict border restrictions. But we have been mindful of the difficulties migrant workers and families have faced," Faafoi said. 

"In the past year, we have introduced exceptions that have allowed entry for around 13,000 family members of New Zealand citizens and residents and 1300 temporary work visa holders, and their families, who normally live here and were overseas when the borders closed. More than 2500 family members of critical workers have also entered to date.

"These latest exceptions are expected to allow hundreds more migrants to come to New Zealand and join their families."