A Wellington Hospital nurse who has been saving for months to bring his wife and children to New Zealand from Egypt says it will now cost him $10,000 with increased managed isolation costs.
Mohamed Elfaioumy is one of many families who have contacted the Herald saying the Government's new managed isolation and quarantine fees for temporary visa holders is yet another barrier to being reunited.
Arriving in New Zealand in 2019, Elfaioumy has not seen his family for a year but has been sending money home to provide for them.
They have not been eligible to apply for temporary visas with the border closure, so are not currently allowed in the country. Elfaioumy told the Herald the extra MIQ fees are yet another hurdle.
"Now I have to save another $5,000 for MIQ, [it] will cost $10,000 alone for my family.
"It's very hard to be away from family all this time. You have to listen to [your] kids say, 'When are we going to see you again, Dad?'"
Elfaioumy is pinning his hopes on the Government announcing a policy that gives exceptions for essential healthcare workers to be reunited with their families.
The MIQ fee for 14 days is increasing from $3,100 to $5,520 for temporary visa holders from March 25, causing an outcry of frustration.
But MIQ said the fees were always subject to review, and temporary visa holders do not have the same legal rights to enter New Zealand as citizens or residents.
Migrant families 'frustrated', call for kindness
Those who are already facing huge barriers to see their loved ones call on the Government to show more compassion.
Auckland chef Sebastian Valdes is trying to secure a spot in MIQ for his wife to come to New Zealand from Chile, who he hasn't seen in two years. She was granted a temporary visa in December, and he's hoping she can arrive in April.
"I work in hospitality so with lockdown, payment is minimal.
"I'm feeling frustrated because to secure a date in MIQ is not easy, and now we need to pay almost $6,000 for a random hotel with random food, it's a stressful situation."
Valdes urged the Government to re-check the policy and MIQ system, calling it "very inefficient".
Lisa Schneider is currently visiting her family in Austria. She holds a temporary work visa for New Zealand and has been living in the country since October 2019.
"The changes make my return more uncertain and what is an incredibly stressful situation already even worse," she told the Herald.
"I don't know how to make an extra $2,300 in three months as a student."
Schneider is waiting to book a spot in MIQ for June, when she plans to return. She said the changes are "absolutely horrible".
"So many people have lost their jobs due to Covid-19. How do they expect people to just carry around $5,500 they don't really need? It just tells us that we're not welcome in the country."
British business development manager Chris Heden is waiting for his wife to be allowed back into New Zealand. Her temporary visa expired after she was shut out from New Zealand when the country plunged into lockdown.
Heden told the Herald the extra MIQ fees are "crippling", and a "massive financial burden".
"The message of being kind is sort of lost on me. We've been shown no kindness at this moment.
"We emigrated here on good intent, this doesn't help us love the country as much as once did. We have been left to fight our own corner."
Any temporary visa holder arriving in New Zealand after March 25 will be subject to the new MIQ costs. It will also now cost $2,990 for an additional adult, and $1,610 for an additional child.
They will have 90 days to come up with the money, or apply for a full or partial waiver for cases of financial hardship or special circumstances.
If not, MIQ will consider the next course of action.
"Options include debt collection agency referral or court action. This decision will be made applying a consistent set of factors and would only occur after 180 days from when the invoice was issued," it said.
New Zealand citizens and permanent residents are exempt from the fee changes because they have a legal right to enter New Zealand, and temporary visa holders do not, MIQ told the Herald.
"The fee system was always designed to be regularly reviewed.
"Cabinet has recently decided it is appropriate to reduce the level of Government subsidy for temporary entry visa class holders, and recover closer to the actual costs of MIQ from these people."
The average cost of a single occupant staying in MIQ is around $5,520.
"This figure includes food, transport, but not other agency costs incurred by Aviation Security, Ministry of Health, the New Zealand Defence Force, and the New Zealand Police," MIQ told the Herald in a statement.
"Temporary entry class visa holders positively contribute to New Zealand's wider economic recovery so the Government will continue to partially subsidise a small part of their MIQ charge in recognition of this."
As of Sunday, a total of 3,209 invoices had been paid to MIQ with a value of $10,662,758. Invoices are issued on a 'per room', rather than to an individual.