When Nawidullah Atayee risked his life to help Kiwi troops during the Afghanistan War he did not foresee he would end up a world away from his family.
Afghanistan-born Atayee moved to New Zealand in 2013, granted residence under Ministerial directive, amid fears for his safety after acting as an interpreter for the New Zealand Defence Force.
Six years on, the Hamilton man is desperate to be reunited with his family after applying to bring his parents and siblings - a group of 10 - from Afghanistan to New Zealand.
However, this week he removed one of his brothers from that application because he is deemed too old to be considered a dependent child - which has a cut-off at age 25.
The family felt it was a decision they had to make because they did not want the other nine people to be turned down.
Atayee is pleading directly to the Associate Minister for Immigration for compassion believing that it's not right his brother falls outside the eligibility criteria.
Immigration New Zealand confirmed Atayee's brother had been removed from his family's application for residence under the Refugee Family Support Category (RFSC).
"He will now have to assess if he is eligible to apply for residence in his [own] right under another category," said Manager Visa Services Michael Carley.
When Atayee arrived at the Whenuapai Air Force in 2013 alongside 29 other interpreters - many with families - he hoped he too would one day be joined by close relatives.
The interpreters were welcomed by then Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse who said the men had "played a vital role" in the operation of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and supporting the New Zealand Police in Bamyan.
"The resettlement offer reflected the Government's view that we should demonstrate a duty of care to personnel who risked their lives to help New Zealanders."
As a young, single man Atayee said he was not entitled to bring others with him.
However, that changed in November 2015, when Cabinet agreed that eligibility for RFSC be extended to include the Afghan interpreters.
As an eligible sponsor under the RFSC Atayee can put forward his parents and their dependent children for New Zealand residence.
One of Atayee's brothers turned 25 a few months after the 2015 change, disqualifying him from being a dependent child in their group - something Atayee claims his family were not aware of at the time.
Atayee saved for years to garner the finances to support his application, missing the window of opportunity to include his brother.
He lodged the formal application for his family in November last year when his brother was 27, according to Immigration New Zealand.
Since moving to New Zealand Atayee struggled through "dark times" battling against loneliness, at the brink of despair considering if he should take his own life.
"It's not an easy thing to just move to a strange country at a young age and start a life," he said.
"Living on your own is not easy - trust me. I have been here on my own for six years now and it has affected my life in so many different ways."
Atayee, who became a New Zealand citizen last year, said he feels guilty he has put his family's lives at risk as persecution for those associated with the interpreters remains a threat.
"We are really worried about my brother's safety in Afghanistan. Him being there on his own is going to make him a target."
But he insisted he did not regret serving the New Zealand Defence Force.
He had a responsibility to help rebuild Afghanistan and felt grateful to the Kiwis who had come a long way to help, he said.
He proudly displays his accolades - the New Zealand General Service Medal (Afghanistan) Primary Operational Area (NZGSM) and the New Zealand Operational Service Medal (NZOSM) - every Anzac day.
During his service, Atayee witnessed the bomb blast that tragically killed three NZDF soldiers in Bamiyan Province.
Advocating for Atayee, Tanya Botha, a solicitor from Community Law Waikato, said there was only one way his brother could accompany their family to New Zealand.
"The only office who can make a special direction allowing this young man to remain with his family if they are granted residence is the Minister's office," she said.
"Without the Minister, he will continue to suffer persecution because of the service his brother provided to the New Zealand Defence Force. The Minister is his only hope. "
On June 14, Botha directed a letter to the Associate Minister for Immigration, appealing for a special direction to be made.
A spokeswoman for the current Associate Minister for Immigration, Poto Williams, said she was not going to go through with the request given there is "an open application file".
When speaking to the Herald earlier this week she said Williams had not read Botha's letter, but said members of staff had.
"We are not pre-empting an application, the application is still currently with the branch and it hasn't been closed off or decided as yet."
All other options needed to be exhausted before ministerial intervention could be considered, she said.
A spokeswoman for Minister for Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway declined to comment on an individual case.
Atayee, still hopeful he will see his family again, maintains determined to complete his political science studies in a bid to one day give back to the New Zealand Government as an international diplomat.
Today, Botha confirmed to the Herald the Minister had agreed to read their submissions.