A migrant from Iran who has been fighting for months to get a tourist visa for his sister has accused Immigration NZ of "unfairly targeting Iranians".
Auckland hairdresser Majid Joshan, 29, is dreaming of a New Zealand reunion with his younger sister Masoumeh Joshan, 23, whom he has not seen for nearly 10 years.
But despite providing what Majid believes to be "strong evidence" to show his sister has enough money to support her stay and strong ties to Iran, his sister's applications for visitor visas have been declined twice in the last six months.
INZ visa services manager Michael Carley said both of Masoumeh's applications were declined because she "did not meet immigration instructions".
Evidence supplied to INZ included a letter from Bank Melli Iran stating she had an equivalent of nearly $227,000 in her savings account, and another from the University of Tehran confirming she was pursuing a masters degree in political sciences.
Masoumeh is also married to a man based in Iran and is a co-owner of a property there, according to her brother.
"Based on the evidence provided in each application, INZ was not satisfied that Ms Joshan demonstrated strong financial or education commitments to her home country," Carley said.
"Therefore, INZ was not satisfied that she met the requirements to be considered a genuine visitor to New Zealand."
Majid is adamant that INZ had put Iranians "into some kind of a black list" and made it more difficult for them to obtain visas compared to most other foreign nationals.
The agency, however, said applications were assessed on a case by case basis.
Nearly four in 10 visitor applications from Iranians were declined by INZ in the last six months. According to figures released to the Herald, of the 460 applications lodged, just 285 were approved.
Over the same period there were 584 applications from Great Britain and 501 were accepted, which is an 86 per cent approval rate.
"In America, Donald Trump openly says Iranians are not welcomed there, so we know what to expect and we don't go there," Majid said.
"But in New Zealand, we are told 'please come', but when we apply for a visa, INZ just don't approve our visas."
He said the family had spent over $4000 in legal and consultant fees in the fight to get Masoumeh here.
"I just want my sister to come so that I can show her my new life, and share with her all the beautiful things about my new country," Majid said.
"It's not like she will move here permanently, the plan is just for a three-week holiday visit for her."
Majid, who first came here on a student visa, last year obtained his residency under the skilled migrant category.
"It is just absolutely ridiculous for INZ to say my sister, who has $220,000 in the bank and is married to a husband who is not coming, does not have strong enough commitments to Iran," he added.
"She also owns half the house and is studying full-time in Tehran University."
Majid has also written to the Associate Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi to seek his intervention over the matter.
In a letter to INZ, Masoumeh wrote: "I have visited many different countries in Asia, and now I would like to see my brother after nine years in New Zealand for only holiday."
She said the money in the bank account was her mother's inheritance which she could use when needed for travelling.
INZ said it did not currently have any live applications from Masoumeh.