New Zealanders furious over partner visa delays

Kiwis have been left upset and frustrated as their partners face lengthy delays getting visas from Immigration New Zealand.

Partners of New Zealand citizens and residents are meant to be a priority. But an immigration lawyer says he's seen no evidence of that and that thousands of families are being kept apart for months.

The days of living in the same country as his partner feel a world away for Kiwi Gavin Burgess.

"We didn't get together to be apart you know, we're a couple and we want to be together," he says.

Burgess moved home from Thailand in November, leaving behind Kratae, his partner of two years, who is waiting desperately for her short-term visitor visa application to be approved.

"I'm told today it'll be another five months before we can expect an approval, or a decision at all," he says.

It's a far cry from the 18 days the New Zealand Immigration website says it takes to process most applications.

Immigration lawyer Alastair McClymont says their story is far from the worst he's heard.

"I'm getting daily enquiries from people wondering if something's gone wrong with their applications and I'm having to tell them probably not, there are just very very long delays," he says.

And he says wait times are even longer if, like Kratae, the applicant is from a non-European country.

"The citizenship status of the sponsor doesn't seem to make any difference whatsoever, it's more about the nationality of the applicant," he told Newshub.

Immigration New Zealand says that's not the case but Minister Iain Lees-Galloway does accept there are delays and says he's sought assurances work is underway to reduce processing times.

"It seems to me very odd that a Government that's preaching wellbeing would be doing this to New Zealand families," Burgess says.

Because home won't be where his heart is until his partner's application is approved.