A young Kiwi couple's dream to see America has been dashed - at least temporarily - by President Donald Trump's ban on visitors from seven majority-Muslim nations.
The Auckland couple, both born in New Zealand, have been caught by the ban because the 24-year-old woman has Iranian as well as New Zealand citizenship due to her parents being born in Iran.
She had been due to attend a visa interview at the US consulate in Auckland tomorrow, but the interview was abruptly cancelled today after Trump's 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya.
Her partner, 29, whose parents were born in New Zealand, said the couple had already spent $8000-$10,000 on air tickets, accommodation and a $250 visa fee for a planned six-week trip around the US from April 4 on their way to Britain, where they plan to work.
"We've booked an apartment in New York, and we were going to go through Memphis and all over the place," he said.
"Air New Zealand said they can re-route us through Vancouver or Buenos Aires, but we still can't get into the States.... We'll definitely lose a few thousand."
The couple said they could not claim back the money they had lost from Air NZ because of a clause in the airline's travel insurance policy excluding "claims arising from any government prohibition, regulation or intervention".
An Iranian-born surgeon at Middlemore Hospital who has booked tickets to attend a medical conference in Boston in May has complained to the Human Rights Commission that the travel insurance policy amounts to "discrimination because of your place of birth".
The surgeon, 36, came to New Zealand as a teenager in 1995 and is a New Zealand citizen, but is treated as having dual nationality because he was born in Iran.
An Air NZ spokeswoman said the surgeon was "not subject to the restrictions" because of his NZ passport.
"Our customer team has been in touch with him to clarify this," she said.
"Travellers who are unsure of the impact the changes may have on them should contact the US consulate for clarity. Any Air NZ customer currently booked to travel to the US within the 90-day period covered by the executive order should contact Air NZ on 0800 737 000 to discuss flexibility or refund options.
"Affected customers will be offered either ticket flexibility or a refund of their fare."
But the surgeon said he did contact the US consulate today and was told that the consulate did not know whether NZ citizens who are also citizens of any of the seven affected nations could travel to the US.
A US embassy spokeswoman said tonight that "nationals or dual nationals [of the seven Muslim nations] holding valid immigrant or nonimmigrant visas will not be permitted to enter the United States" during the 90-day ban.
"Visa interviews will generally not be scheduled for nationals of these countries during this period," she said.
"Additionally, as such travellers will not be admitted to the United States under the Executive Order, and at the request of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State is provisionally revoking valid visas previously issued to any affected nationals."
She said "a very small number" of visa interviews have been cancelled.
"We apologise for any inconvenience this causes," she said. "Once it is appropriate, we will notify applicants of a new interview date and time.
"If you are a national, or dual national, of one of these countries, please do not schedule a visa appointment or pay any visa fees at this time.
"If you already have an appointment scheduled, please do not attend your appointment as we will not be able to proceed with your visa interview."