“Labour’s immigration policy has resulted in Ukrainian visitor visa applications being rejected over 50% more often those of Russians,” says ACT’s immigration spokesperson James McDowall. “This is despite New Zealand's support for Ukraine against Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion.”

“Since Russia invaded Ukraine, there have been 5477 visitor and work visas granted to Russians but only 2057 visitor and work visas granted to Ukrainians. For visitor visa applications, Russians had an 8% decline rate, while Ukrainians had a 13% decline rate.

“This figure is even more surprising when you consider that Russians must go through an extra layer of bureaucracy in the form of a national security check before getting granted a visa.

“Why is this government declining Ukrainians at a higher rate than Russians? The issue is not that Russians are coming to New Zealand, it is rather that the Government isn’t doing enough to support Ukrainians fleeing the devastation of their homeland.

"This is a special situation which demands special measures. Ukrainians are very family-focused and have large extended whanau. Labour needs to recognise this and broaden the family criteria, so that Ukrainians already living here can sponsor family members who fall outside of the Government’s strict criteria.

"Another measure would be to allow New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses to sponsor Ukrainians into New Zealand, subject to the usual financial and good character checks. I am aware of businesses who employ Ukrainians working remotely who would love to be able to bring their staff to New Zealand, even if only to temporarily get them out of a stressful war environment.

"Finally, the Government needs to act urgently to extend the visas of those who are already here and offer them some pathway to residence. Ukrainians currently in New Zealand on temporary visas have enough stress in their lives worrying about friends and family at home, we should give them some certainty about their ability to stay in New Zealand.

"Labour has made a total hash of immigration, having single-handedly created a worker shortage through their ill-guided and ideological ‘immigration reset’. Providing Ukrainians with more certain pathways to come to New Zealand is one step toward creating a more equitable, successful immigration system."

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