A Hawke's Bay DHB employee stranded in India since October 2020 is pleading to Immigration NZ to extend work visas of stranded immigrants.
Layeeq Baig is currently living in Chennai after leaving New Zealand in October 27 last year to see his ill father, who has since died.
"Upon completing all my duties and settling down everything with family, while still dealing with my grief, I find to my dismay that I cannot come back home," Baig said.
Hawke's Bay DHB chief executive Keriana Brooking said Baig was a "valued employee".
"We are looking forward to his return, as his skills are sorely missed," Brooking said.
"We feel for him and the situation he is in. However, we know the decision rests with Immigration NZ, and we look forward to an expedient decision."
Baig, who moved to Hawke's Bay in 2015, said resident Work Visa holders who left NZ between December 1, 2019, and October 9, 2020, could apply for a request to travel back but he left on October 27, 2020.
"I also found out that since I am overseas my residency application is placed under the offshore category and will be processed after the onshore applications," Baig said.
"This was fine but I was shocked to find out that I cannot extend my work visa [which expires on November 15, 2021] until the residency is processed.
"So come November 15, I cannot extend my work visa even if I am employed and cannot expect my residency application processed with the current backlog, which spells out that this will be the end of the road for me to come back home."
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has declined to comment on individual cases.
While studying at EIT he interned in the Procurement & Logistics division and secured a job as a purchasing officer in 2016.
He also worked in the Covid Response team in Hawke's Bay during lockdown.
"When the PM cites us as a team of five million, I have never felt so belonged."
Baig was also a board member for Multicultural Association Hawke's Bay, Hawke's Bay Young Professionals and Napier Toastmasters.
He said he was being pragmatic about his situation and did not expect the government to make "special interventions".
"At the end of the day, I expect the government to consider the cases of stranded immigrants with compassion and kindness that it always emphasises and create a pathway for people like me to come back home."
Gagan Singla, licensed immigration adviser at Ethical Immigration Services said he knew Baig both professionally and personally, and told Hawke's Bay Today there were many in the same situation.
"Unfortunately, there are no avenues for him to travel back to New Zealand, apart from what he has tried. I would be happy to help him in any way."
Tukituki MP Anna Lorck said she had also been advocating on Baig's behalf, and that he was a "really well-respected member of the DHB and the community."