A migrant mother originally from China is desperate to bring her 12-year-old twin sons to NZ, but says the fee hike for managed isolation (MIQ) has put it beyond reach.
The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, and her sons were granted New Zealand residency in November 2016.
But Immigration New Zealand said the residence status of the boys have expired and the time they had spent here were insufficient to qualify them for permanent residence.
Citizens and residents do not need to pay for MIQ but temporary entry class visa holders face a fee hike from March 25.
An INZ spokeswoman said the boys had only spent 56 days in New Zealand in total since they were granted residency in 2016, which was not enough to qualify them for permanent residency.
"On top of this, their existing residence visas expired in January 2019 due to them being offshore without the necessary travel conditions," she said.
The mother, who is twice divorced, first brought her children over in 2017 during their school holidays when she met a new partner, and again in 2018.
Her second husband, who she is no longer with, said he did not want to live with the children permanently, which was why she had to send the boys back to live with their father in China.
But during a recent phone conversation from their grandparents' home, the boys revealed that their father is embroiled in a domestic abuse situation with his current partner.
The boys said that they were scared to go home, and pleaded for her to let them live with her in New Zealand.
"I sense that my sons may be in danger and I am really worried for their safety," the woman said.
"Now that I am no longer with my partner, I am in a position to bring them over - but the immigration and MIQ fees is making that financially impossible."
From March 25, fees for temporary visa holders coming to New Zealand will spike from $3100 to $5520 for the first occupant, and $2990 for an additional adult or $1610 for an additional child.
In the woman's case, she would have to move in to the MIQ facilities because her children are underage, meaning it would cost them $8740 for the 14 days.
This is on top of the $4500 she has already paid to re-apply for her twins' new residence visa and $590 for student visas, to speed up their entry process.
"In total I have to pay more than $15,200. I don't know where I can find the rest of the money to do this," she said.
"This an emergency situation and I really need to bring my boys here, and I feel the current NZ system is just inhumane."
The mother has applied twice for border exemptions under the "partner or dependent child" category, but was declined both times.
The INZ spokeswoman confirmed it has received new applications for new residence visas for the twins on March 7, 2021.
"The Government policy is clear that there are a limited number of exceptions for people who should seek approval from INZ before travelling," the INZ spokeswoman said.
"All requests are considered against the strict criteria as set out in immigration instructions and individuals must meet the strict border exception criteria to be granted an exception. INZ has no ability to apply discretion when considering requests for border exceptions."
To be granted a border exception, she said the family members needed to be travelling with their NZ citizen or resident family member to New Zealand.
"In the woman's case her sons would not be travelling with her, do not have a visa based on their relationship with her and are not ordinarily resident in New Zealand," the spokeswoman said.
"They do not meet the criteria to be granted a border exception and therefore the requests were not successful."