Neethu Johnly hasn't seen her daughter Nastaha for more than a year and will have to watch her fifth birthday party through a video chat.
The registered nurse arrived in New Zealand from India in January and planned to bring her over after her, but then the borders shut.
"It's very painful and it feels like discrimination."
The aged-care nurse said if she's not able to bring her family over by April she'll go back home. Johnly is in a WhatsApp group of more than 300 registered nurses in the same situation without their families.
"I miss my daughter a lot and she's also missing me," Johnly said.
"It's really hard because we don't have much hope. We want to be here in New Zealand but ... we're in such a tough situation because of the border closure.
"Every day Natasha comes online and asks me when I'm going to take her to New Zealand."
Adding to Johnly's pain is the fact people granted skilled migrant visas now can bring their families with them - including one of her friends.
The Government was briefed about this inconsistency last June and estimates about 1100 migrant workers in New Zealand across specialities are being kept separated from their families.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi, who did not hold the portfolio last term, asked for advice about the separated families in October.
He said the Government "was looking at it" but didn't want to raise expectations.
"We know that almost a year after the border being closed some of those pain points are getting pretty difficult for families. We acknowledge that but also have to make sure we're prioritising safety."
Faafoi said he'd seen an estimate about 1100 migrant workers were here without their families but it was not known how many partners and children would apply for a border exemption.
"There are no perfect situations when you close the border. We're looking at it. It's not just about saying yes to families, it's about whether or not we've got the capacity to bring those people in through managed isolation."
The bosses at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment appeared before the Economic Development, Science and Innovation to present their annual review.
They said officials first raised the issue with the Government in June and since then it had been traversed a number of times.
"The immigration service has to work on a rules-based system and this is the application of those rules," said MBIE chief executive Carolyn Tremain
To fix the anomaly Cabinet would need to make a policy decision which is then passed on to MBIE staff to effect, which could take two or three weeks.
Families would then need to secure a spot in MIQ.
National's immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford said she'd been contacted by about 50 healthcare workers who can't have their families come join them in New Zealand.
But if they flew back to their homeland and then applied for a critical health worker visa they could bring their families back with them.
That process was expensive and could take months, she said.
"The double-standards for these poor nurses is something that does deserve priority."
It was also unfair visas were granted for bands and film crews while health workers couldn't bring in their own children, she said.