A Hawke's Bay university student unable to see her family at Christmas because she is stuck in Australia says New Zealand is at risk of losing young professionals if the "unfair" MIQ system isn't scrapped.
She says more and more people are being forced to set up their lives across the ditch because they are being shut out of their own country.
It comes as the Government announced this week it was extending border closures to late February due to concerns over the fast-spreading Omicron variant of Covid.
The NZ Government had previously announced it would end mandatory hotel quarantine on January 17 for New Zealand citizens and visa holders coming home from Australia.
Jasmine Roydhouse-Ross, 20, formerly a student at Havelock North High School, moved to Melbourne last year because the course she wanted to study was not available in New Zealand.
She had a flight booked to return home in mid-January to see her family but said the extended border closures had put an end to those plans.
"Christmas was going to be hard but knowing I was going to see family in a couple of weeks after that made it a bit easier," she said.
"It gave me something to look forward to and it was a big punch in the gut the other day when [the Government changed the dates]."
Melbourne has endured some of the longest lockdowns on the planet.
Roydhouse-Ross estimated this year alone, she had spent about six months (180 days) in lockdown, which was finally lifted in late October.
She has completed two years of her studies in prosthetics and orthotics at La Trobe University in Melbourne.
"My course is not offered in New Zealand," she said.
"That is the reason I am in Australia.
"New Zealand has four or five artificial limb centres and they need their graduates from here, but are not supporting in any way."
She was able to do much of her study online in 2020 but has had to be based in Melbourne this year because the course requires a lot of hands-on work.
Roydhouse-Ross cannot get a student loan in Australia and has been paying her own way, working up to five nights a week while studying.
She said New Zealand was at risk of losing more and more young professionals to Australia who were being forced to remain and set up a life over the Tasman.
"I haven't had any support from New Zealand, and I'm being forced out and forced out and starting to set up my life here.
"New Zealand needs the graduates back in my case, they need me to come back and work in the industry," she said.
"I think for a lot of New Zealanders ... now that they are being forced out, they have established life here."
She tried multiple times to secure a spot on the MIQ lottery before deciding recently to buy a car with the money she was going to use on hotel quarantine.
That meant she could at least work over summer in country Victoria, while she waited for quarantine-free travel to reopen.
"I am driving tractors and unloading trucks for summer.
"We are doing 14 hours a day, seven days a week, so just under 100 hours a week."
She said there had only been one Covid case in the town she was working in during the past two years, and she did not see why she could not return to New Zealand, labelling the system "unfair".
"I am double vaccinated ... we are doing everything they ask us to do and we get our hopes up when they give us a date, then they turn back on it."
She said she did not know when she would be able to return home as she could only travel between semesters.
Earlier this week, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that NSW was expected to record 25,000 cases a day by the end of next month, and it was too high a risk to open the border in mid-January as planned.
"All of the evidence so far points to Omicron being the most transmissible Covid-19 variant yet and public health advice suggests that soon, every case that comes into MIQ will be Omicron," he said.