Government to make major immigration change to help out split migrant families

The Prime Minister has switched hats in Vietnam and is now on the charm offensive to open business doors - squeezing in a lime deal.

Though while she's offshore, migrant families are still separated by the border. However, Newshub can reveal there's been a major breakthrough. 

You really can't travel anywhere in this world without bumping into a couple of Kiwis. Ardern's fruity frenemies - the Zespri kiwifruit brothers - once again tracked down the Prime Minister, this time in Hanoi.

They also came bearing a baby kiwifruit stuffed toy as an offering after Ardern's last one was brutally mutilated by a staffer.

"I've been gifted one with a helmet which I think is not an accident, but rather good practice," she said. 

But they weren't the only fruits of the day. Limes from Vietnam will be exported to New Zealand. 

"I just checked and currently they're $39 a kilogram at New World, so you can see there's a reason that it gets called green gold," Ardern.

Asked if that makes it a cost of living announcement, there was laughter. 

It's not, rather it's a sweet lime deal, a breakthrough in biosecurity standards so we can import Vietnamese limes.

"Now all those who prefer lime in their Corona will be able to access it this summer," said Trade Minister Damien O'Connor. 

But while the Prime Minister is out promoting New Zealand as being back and open, our borders still aren't open for everyone.

Brindley van Haght moved to New Zealand just before COVID-19 hit. His family was meant to follow but got locked out. 

"I miss movie night, I miss making popcorn, I miss making bacon and eggs in the morning, I miss my wife shouting at me because the cupboard doors are open or the socks are on the floor," said van Haght. "You come home every night and I'm just tired of being alone."

They applied for the special COVID R21 visa seven months ago.

"Please let me see my children and my wife. Please allow the visa to be processed before December 2 so they can fly here."

Split migrant families were meant to be fixed by that specific R21 visa so the Government scrapped their only other pathway, a family reunification border exemption, saying it was no longer needed. 

"There was always a really easy fix to this problem - prioritise the resident 2021 visas of split migrant families," said National's immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford. 

Newshub can reveal that is exactly what the Government is now going to do. It's creating a priority pathway for family members stuck overseas.

"We have particularly recognised there is a fair case to put these people a little bit up the queue," Immigration Minister Michael Wood told Newshub.

The sector has been asking for this for months.