A WATERFALL family, now living out of a suitcase at a guesthouse in Durban, is eager to be reunited with their families in New Zealand.
They, in partnership with other families, launched a petition calling on the country’s government to allow them entry.
Vanessa Welsh said she would travel to New Zealand with her daughter, Luca, on March 21 but they were refused check-in for their flight because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
This virus has claimed the lives of more than 550,000 people worldwide and more than 3,600 people in South Africa.
New Zealand moves to Alert Level 4 from its national lockdown on 25 March. On June 8, the country lifted all of its restrictions, except border controls.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health reported on 9 July that there were three new Covid-19 cases in managed isolation facilities.
New Zealand immigration confirmed that Vanessa Welsh was approved for a temporary visa, on the basis of being a partner of a temporary work visa holder, on February 24, 2020.
“My partner, Luca’s father, has been in New Zealand since September 2019. We have submitted many requests to be granted an exception to travel and have been denied more than 20 times,” said Vanessa who was desperate.
The general manager of Border Operations and Visas at INZ, Nicola Hogg, said Welsh had made several requests for border exclusion since May 24, 2020, under ‘humanity’ and ‘partners and dependent children of work visa holders or students who were on the exclusion criteria New Zealand, but nothing was given.
“Ms. Welsh currently lives in her home country, with her daughter. Based on the information provided, Ms. Welsh’s situation did not meet the high threshold for humanitarian consideration.
“Because Ms. Welsh has never traveled before to New Zealand, she is not considered an ordinary resident in New Zealand and therefore also does not meet the criteria for being exempted as a partner of work or student visa holders,” Hogg said.
He said the only possessions they had were two suitcases between them and the documents needed to travel.
Vanessa and Luca have been living at a local guesthouse since February because they do not have friends or family who can accommodate them and their two dogs, who will fly with them to New Zealand.
“Our personal belongings will arrive in New Zealand on July 16 and this includes our winter clothes!” said the mother. “I’m unemployed and it’s been three years. My partner is trying to financially support two households with great difficulty. Luca is no longer in school and we really depend on the guesthouse for everything from towels to kitchen utensils. “
The last photo of the family together was taken at King Shaka International Airport, more than 10 months ago.
“We will join him sooner, but it takes about five months to get my birth certificate from the Interior and that is needed for our visa application,” Vanessa said.
“The border is New Zealand’s best protection in our struggle against Covid-19, which is why the border remains closed to all except citizens and residents of New Zealand. Protecting public health in New Zealand is the most important.
“The limits for exemption from border restrictions are set high to help stop the spread of Covid-19 and protect the health of people who are already in New Zealand. Individual requests for exceptions to border restrictions are considered contrary to the strict criteria set out in immigration instructions, “Hogg said.
At the time of printing, more than 1,950 people had signed the petition.
You can sign the petition HERE.
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