Kiwi Journalist Charlotte Bellis’s struggle and frustration with securing a MIQ slot captured the attention of global media with publications such as BBC, Guardian, and Time picking up her story.

It was a heart-breaking story of a Kiwi citizen- fully vaccinated, undergoing a pregnancy in a country known for its hostile circumstances, having to fight a battle with her own country to return home and deliver her baby.  

The story had Taliban who, otherwise known for their brutal treatment of women, assured her that she would be safe in Afghanistan. For about a week her story grabbed the headlines the world over and the story finally ended on a happy note with Bellis finally getting a MIQ slot.

Going through her story, many Kiwi-Indians, who are either themselves or have family members stuck in India, would have been reminded of their own struggle with MIQ.

Indian Weekender has reported many stories of Kiwi-Indians tired and overwrought with their struggle to book a MIQ so they can unite with their families or return to their livelihood.

Recently another story was reported in the media of an Auckland mum going through breast cancer treatment, trying to get her parents over from UK to be with her. While the parents were given critical purpose visa under humanitarian grounds, they still can’t enter NZ as being UK citizens, they are not eligible for emergency MIQ allocation.

Immigration lawyer Aaron Martin says, “The mismatch between MIQ and Immigration has been a long-standing frustration, not just for these humanitarian type cases, but for even simple matters like employers getting specialist technicians into NZ to assist with the commissioning of highly specialised machinery. Often, the wait for the person to get into NZ is many months after the issue of the visa which causes added stress because the Visa has a deadline for entry.

“The double border created by MIQ and the visa requirements administered by Immigration New Zealand and the lack of synchronisation is a bureaucratic mess that leads to unnecessary hardship,” Martin says.

Bellis’ lawyer Tudor Clee has had about 30 pregnant NZ women contact him who had emergency MIQ spots requests rejected, in difficult situations. Clee also submitted over 60 documents while applying for Bellis’ MIQ spot which still got rejected.

Stories like these highlight how stressful the MIQ system can be for those who are looking for urgent relief, but have to grapple with bureaucracy and lack of a coherent policy around MIQ allocations.

Immigration advisor Himang Bhardwaj said, “The issues with MIQ have existed ever since MIQ came in to existence. It's a classic supply and demand issue and so far, the government has not been able to provide any viable solution to people intending to enter NZ.

“The recent changes to Managed Isolation Allocation system caused even more issues for visa holders (residents and critical purpose visa holders) as the system was unable recognise certain visas.

“This in my opinion adds fuel to fire especially for critical purpose visa holders who are clearly needed in NZ (given that they were issued a visa) but are than unable to secure a MIQ voucher,” he concluded.

At a time when most of the other countries are taking a common-sense approach keeping in mind the mild consequences of the dominant Omicron variant and are relaxing borders, New Zealand has a MIQ system which has been repeatedly termed as cruel and illogical by observers.

Aaron Martin adds, “Even totalitarian regimes allow the return of their citizens to their own country when they want, but not NZ. Internationally, it has quite rightly resulted in criticism as significant numbers of our citizens get stuck in foreign jurisdictions, potentially becoming a burden on government resources in those countries.”

Now that Bellis is finally able to return home,  it is hoped that the positive outcome of her case will pave the way for many other such cases.