A bride-to-be says her wedding plans are in tatters after her sister and bridesmaid was denied a visa to come to New Zealand.
Bahareh Safamanesh, 37, who moved to New Zealand from Iran seven years ago, is planning to wed her Kiwi-born fiance Matthew Cross on February 9 next year.
"It is my big day and I don't have any family here so I asked my sister to be my bridesmaid, and also to come help with organising the wedding ceremony and party," Safamanesh said.
"We're all shocked that Immigration NZ says this is not our true intention, and that they do not consider my sister to be a genuine visitor."
INZ said her 38-year-old sister Behnaz Safamanesh's application was declined because of concerns that she was not a bona fide visitor to New Zealand.
"My sister and I are very close, from the time we are very young we do everything together," Safamanesh said.
"Even though now we are living apart, we still make it a point to go on holiday together to catch up."
Safamanesh, who runs an architecture business, was born and raised in Iran and came to New Zealand as an international student in 2011.
Three years ago, she met Cross and bought a home together two years ago and they started living as partners.
Cross proposed to her last year, which Safamanesh said made her the "happiest woman in NZ and Iran".
Safamanesh, now a permanent resident, said the only other thing to complete the picture of a dream wedding was having family here.
"One of the first things I did was asked my sister to be my bridesmaid, and I was so happy when she said yes," Safamanesh said.
"But now, everyday I am in tears after INZ said she cannot get a visa. Without any family to help, my wedding plans is in tatters and everything is ruined."
She said her sister had been here before on a visitor's visa, so the rejection came as a shock.
Safamanesh said they have done everything they could to address INZ's concerns, and "cannot understand how they are not enough".
"We sent proof that we own our house in Waikino for my sister to stay in, and bank statements to show we have money to support her stay here," she said.
"My sister too have provided her bank statements showing a balance of US$1140 and evidence of her shares...worth over $8300."
Her sister works as an Android developer and has an 11-year-old son, and Safamanesh says that she has every reason to return to Iran after the wedding.
Michael Carley, INZ manager operations support, said Behnaz has been informed that her application was denied because she did not meet requirements set out in the visitor visa immigration instructions.
"We are not satisfied that her employment commitments to her home country were sufficient or that she met funds requirements," Carley said.
He said the onus was on the visitor to satisfy INZ that they met all entry requirements to travel to New Zealand.
These include having at least $1000 per month for maintenance and accommodation or $400 if accommodation is provided or prepaid.
"INZ must believe that the person will abide by the conditions of any visa granted to them...(and) that the person is genuinely intending to depart NZ at the end of their stay," Carley added.