Parent visa freeze leaves people in 'limbo'

9:47 am on 23 December 2017

A woman whose elderly mother is stranded in England because of a freeze on the parent immigration category says thousands of other families are stuck in limbo.

Norah Cheetham, 83, and her daughter Carole Barker.

Norah Cheetham, 83, and her daughter Carole Barker. Photo: Supplied

The previous government decided to review the category in October 2016, and the new government is due to consider recommendations on that in the New Year.

Norah Cheetham, 83, had been visiting annually on a three-month visa and had returned to England last year to avoid becoming an overstayer.

Her only child, Carole Barker, who emigrated in 2005 and is now a citizen, said her mother's visa decision looked close to approval when the freeze was announced.

"It was totally unexpected and we've effectively been stonewalled by Immigration now for 12 months," she said.

"It's not getting any easier as the months go by. She's trying to keep positive but it's very physically and emotionally draining for her.

"She's in complete limbo. The one thing we've been trying to push with the government departments on in this situation is that the people affected in this category are predominantly elderly and often living on their own, widowed.

"They are stuck in limbo and being in limbo at the age group they're in is not a nice place to be."

She said not knowing their fate for two or three years was "absolutely awful" and being apart from her only daughter and grand-daughter at Christmas was particularly tough for her.

"She's stoical," she said.

"She always has good faith in people and she's trying to get on with her life in the UK but obviously as the time goes by she gets a little bit more despairing, and saddened I suppose, frustrated."

They wanted to draw attention to what she said was the thousands of people affected by the freeze.

"If the answer is no, at least they know, they can plan for the years they have got left.

Immigration New Zealand said the parent category was temporarily closed to new applications because of very high demand.

It said as of August 2017, 2423 applications had not been allocated to an immigration officer for processing.

Immigration New Zealand's recommendations from a review of the category were expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

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