Shay, a doctor born in Iran with dual Canadian citizenship, and his New Zealand fiancée Briar, also a doctor, are facing a 17-month wait for a partnership visa, almost double the time other couples have experienced. The two doctors, who are expecting a baby in August, have been caught up in national security checks and face having to decide whether to leave the country.
Shay believes he was singled out due to his Iranian birthplace, which he says constitutes racial profiling.
"I have a high suspicion that this is only because I was born in Iran. My fiancee is finding this whole process incredibly stressful as she is a New Zealander - fifth generation - and worried that she and my unborn child may face being separated from me in the future if this visa is not sorted.
"I think this needs to get out there, that there are hard-working people in this country who get racially profiled with no reason."
The couple, who work as junior doctors at a hospital in New Plymouth, have not been given a reason for the lengthy wait for the visa, and could face the prospect of moving to Canada and becoming doctors there instead.
Meanwhile, another migrant who asked not to be named, and who arrived in October via the Straight to Residency pathway, is still waiting for a national security check with no updates and feels the situation is "incredibly frustrating". He is worried that he will be forced to leave if his residency application is declined, and that if a medical crisis were to occur in his family during this waiting period, there remains the possibility of rejection.
They are not given a specified time to wait – currently over six months – and not given any updates. At the same time, they are not able to buy properties, and can’t get Kiwisaver, and had to apply for temporary visas that cost thousands of dollars.
"If some medical crisis were to happen to any member of our family in this time that we're in limbo, we would face a very real possibility of having our residency application declined. There are very real monetary and emotional costs."
According to a statement from the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), the turnaround time for completing National Security Checks (NSCs) has been consistently maintained for years. The vast majority of NSCs are processed within weeks, while only a negligible number take longer than that. The time taken to complete the NSC procedure varies depending on the applicant and their circumstances. Applicants who may have links with international extremist groups, involved in espionage activities, or weapons of mass destruction proliferation are subjected to NSCs. This screening process enables border protection agencies to impede the entry of individuals who could pose a threat to national security.
It is worth noting that the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service does not have the authority to approve or decline visa applications. Instead, its role is to provide assessments to Immigration New Zealand (INZ), which helps them make decisions.