Rajesh Kumar longs to show his wife and daughter his house and successful business in Whanganui - but after seven months their visa is still being processed.

Immigration New Zealand has apologised for the delay and Kumar is instead flying to India to see his family.

Born in India, he took the opportunity to work as a chef in New Zealand in 2007.

He left his wife Indra Devi and daughter Muskan in India, where his wife needed to look after relatives.


He worked in Auckland, Hamilton and the South Island before moving to Whanganui and the Tasty Indian restaurant in Victoria Ave.

In October 2011 he took over the restaurant, in 2012 it won Mainstreet Whanganui hospitality and service awards and he became a New Zealand citizen in 2016.

He's been sending money home to support his family all this time, and in 2018 he bought a house in Whanganui. His wife and daughter have never been to New Zealand and he dreams of showing them this country, his house and his successful business.

On November 20 last year his wife applied for a one month visitor visa for herself and daughter, through Whanganui immigration adviser Vijeshwar Prasad.

The two planned to visit during the daughter's December holiday.

But Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has one remaining centre in India, in Mumbai. It has a heavy workload.

Because Kumar has permanent residency in New Zealand the pair have to satisfy INZ that Devi has a genuine reason to travel here as a visitor, INZ assistant general manager Jeannie Melville said.

Last week the two were finally asked for evidence of their relationship.


INZ wanted a fresh copy of their marriage certificate, eight to 10 wedding photographs, evidence Kumar has sent his wife money, evidence they've had contact in the last 12 months and evidence they have lived together since their marriage in 1998.

Partnership visas need "the right level of scrutiny", Melville said. She acknowledged Mumbai has a backlog of partnership visas and apologised for the delay.

Most visitor visas are processed within 16 days, she said, and 20 more staff are being recruited for Mumbai.

When December went by without his family visiting, Kumar reapplied for the visa for July, hoping daughter Muskan would be in New Zealand when she turns 13 on July 27. He heard nothing until a few days ago, and flew to India to see his family this week.

Now that his daughter is nearly 13, he hopes she will realise he hasn't been lying about his inability to be with her.

"In front of my daughter, I don't want to be a lying father."

He's still hoping his wife and daughter can get visas to visit New Zealand in the coming December.

Immigration adviser Vijeshwar Prasad said INZ is getting a reputation for processing applications slowly and migrants are choosing Australia or Canada instead.

A Facebook page for immigration advisers has stories about student visas processed so slowly students are unable to start their courses, and education organisations miss out on enrolments.

Tourism operators said New Zealand missed out on millions of dollars' worth of Indian tourism last year, because applications weren't processed in time.

Advisers like Prasad can have anxious clients ringing them twice a day.

Another of his clients, a Fijian fitter and turner, lost a job in Oamaru and his prospective employer lost a contract because a work visa took too long to process.

Prasad said the Labour-led Government wanted to streamline immigration, and in 2017 it began changes that laid off nearly 250 people and reduced the number of offices worldwide from 25 to 10.

At the same time applications to visit, work and live in New Zealand have increased, and the Government wants to "take a breather" on immigration.

"They have laid off a lot of people, and now they can't cope," Prasad said.

He is working with about 700 clients, from all over the world.