Fetch and Fly: What can be done?

 In Coronavirus, immigration, immigration issues


15 March 2021

Fetch and Fly: What can be done?


During the current Coronavirus Pandemic the borders of New Zealand are closed and very few exceptions are made to allow people to come in. In the past we have discussed how partners are being allowed into NZ. A recent article from Stuff examines the practice of ‘fetch and fly[1].


It is described as ‘Fetch and Fly’ because one of the few border exemptions for partners is for partners to travel into New Zealand with their Kiwi partner. Instead of a Kiwi applying for a visa and then allowing the partner to travel to New Zealand – Kiwis are getting on planes and then travelling back with their overseas-based partners.


An Immigration Underclass


This exception has created a two-tier system for bringing partners to New Zealand. Those with the resources to fly overseas and pay the large amounts for flights and quarantine for two are given a privileged status. A good example is the Greens politician mentioned in the past.


While those who can’t fly for financial reasons or cannot do it due to the health risks associated with coronavirus are the ‘have-nots’ and represent an immigration underclass. People with strong cases for partnership visas are being made to wait for extraordinary periods of time.


As noted in the Stuff article and elsewhere it is against government health advice to travel overseas and this exception is simply encouraging risky travel.


A modest proposal


Given the world is changing,  large parts of the world are getting their vaccines and our near neighbours have almost eliminated the virus – it’s time to put our thinking caps on. Here are some ideas to get things that can stop people resorting to ‘fetch and fly’.


Better Immigration New Zealand processes


Cease the ‘Just Say No’ approach to partnership border exemptions – take all applications for partnership border exemptions on a case-by-case basis.


Saying ‘no’ until someone decides to take the extraordinary step of leaving the country is self-defeating.  


It is also self-defeating in terms of Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) places which are booked up until mid-2021. When people ‘fetch and fly’ they inevitably take multiple MIQ slots not just one.


Free up the places in Quarantine


It makes no sense that a person from the Northern Territory or Tasmania which has no Coronavirus cases has to do the same quarantine as someone from Brazil or South Africa.


Similarly, Fiji and other pacific countries have been as coronavirus free as New Zealand have if not more so. A recent article suggested that 40% of MIQ places are taken up by Australian and New Zealanders travelling from Australia.[2]  Opening the travel bubble would increase MIQ capacity and would immediately reduce the need for ‘fetch and fly’.


Israel, the United Arab Emirates and even Chile and the UK are ramping up their vaccination programmes[3]. The government should seriously look at opening up a travel bubble with these countries. Or reduce the quarantine requirement for them depending on their progress with their vaccination programmes.  


A new approach to Partnership Visas for 2021


The world has changed and entered a new stage with the Coronavirus Pandemic. The policy settings of 2020 are looking less and less appropriate as time moves on. When people make the decision to ‘fetch and fly’ because other alternatives aren’t available -something just isn’t working.

[1] https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/prosper/advice/300250252/why-fetch-and-fly-is-the-hottest-thing-in-immigration-right-now

[2] https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/432807/australia-travel-bubble-for-early-2021-agreed-in-principle-by-cabinet-ardern

[3] https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations

If you need to apply for a new visa of any kind, please contact Idesi Legal.

At Idesi Legal we provide help for migrants and refugees coming to New Zealand. If you’re a NZ migrant and need help with the immigration process, get in touch.

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