A South African rugby player wanting to reboot his career in New Zealand and be with his British-born partner has hit a wall after his partnership visa application was declined.
Dalton Kannemeyer, 26, believes he meets all the criteria for a partnership-based temporary visa to remain in New Zealand with partner Harriet Jenkinson, 30, who had previously worked on a major New Zealand Government project.
After his visa was declined in July, Kannemeyer appealed to the Associate Immigration Minister Poto Williams to intervene, but the request was turned down last month.
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Kannemeyer arrived on a visitor visa in March last year and was living in the South Island, where Jenkinson was working for a company that was involved in a Ministry for Primary Industries project to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.
They moved to Auckland in January this year after Kannemeyer said he was scouted to play rugby for Marist Old Boys.
However, Kannemeyer's work visa application was submitted incomplete and by the time it was returned, his visitor visa had expired.
Immigration New Zealand border and visa operations general manager Nicola Hogg said its records showed Kannemeyer's original application was for a work, not a partnership, visa.
"Mr Kannemeyer's application for an essential skills work visa was returned to him in March of this year as it was incomplete," Hogg said.
"This was because he'd failed to provide required documents. In particular he did not include a skills match report, an up-to-date medical certificate, copies of work experience-qualification certificates, and evidence of a signed employment agreement."
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Kannemeyer then submitted another work visa application but Hogg said was refused in July.
"Under the provisions of the Immigration Act, reasons do not have to be supplied for this decision," she said.
Kannemeyer blamed wrong advice from immigration lawyers and advisers for the predicament he finds himself in now.
"While INZ understands Mr Kannemeyer and his partner are frustrated with their situation, it is the responsibility of visa applicants and their immigration advisers to ensure they apply for the right visa, meet the requirements of immigration instructions, and make sure their applications are complete and correct," Hogg added.
Kannemeyer met Jenkinson, a British national, in South Africa a week before Christmas in 2016 and they have been together since.
"We want to live in New Zealand as it's a mutual country for us," he said.
"It's much safer than South Africa and we're so happy here despite what's happening to us."
Kannemeyer said they have tried "every possible option" and spent thousands on immigration lawyers "only to get wrong advice" and the visa applications declined.
"I am a former professional rugby player, and I was hoping to get my career back on track as this is the best rugby country in the world," he said.
"Now this could mean I lose my opportunity to play rugby around the world."
Jenkinson, who holds a work visa, said she had "worked and worked and worked" in order to pay the legal fees.
In a letter to Associate Minister for Courts and of Justice Aupito Sua William Sio, she was worried about falling into depression if Kannemeyer was deported.
"Dalton is my absolute everything, he is my partner in life and love and I do not know what I will do without him," Jenkinson said.
"We have spent so much money, over $4000 on this visa and we really do not want to spend any more. However, we will fight this."