The government is considering allowing family members of some of the mosque killings widows to stay in New Zealand. It has already granted visitor visas to victims’ families impacted by the shootings at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood mosque.
In April, Immigration New Zealand also created a special visa category for those directly affected, as well as their families so they can apply to stay in the country permanently.
However, applications for the Christchurch Response 2019 category could only be made by those who were present at either mosque during the attacks and their immediate families – including dependent children, someone’s partner’s parents and grandparents of children under 25.
RNZ has heard from two widows, both with young children and who don’t have any other family for support in New Zealand.
Their family members traveled from overseas to support them just after their husbands were killed, and now they’re desperate for those relatives to be allowed to stay.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the government was looking at helping at least two widows – whom she did not name – by allowing their families to stay.
“My expectation is that we try and deal with those particular two cases expeditiously because I think everyone would agree we need to make sure, that even though they fell outside that criteria, they are well supported.”
Last week, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway urged families to seek advice and apply under the current immigration rules.
But he did offer some hope that the extraordinary circumstances in play as a result of the events of 15 March might make some difference to their chances of success.
“People have the opportunity to apply for applications that go outside of instructions, that is one of the options that’s available to them and that may well be considered in due course.”
Featured image: Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas