Love took Tyler Jensen to Sweden but a pandemic made him a de facto Kiwi refugee.
“He can not go home, he can not stay here – it feels impossible,” said his Swedish partner Sophie Jansson from Östergötland County, south of Stockholm in Sweden.
Jensen, 26, from Wellington’s Hutt Valley, has until October 20 to leave Sweden to renew his visa to return to Sophie and her 6-year-old daughter, Alice, in Sweden.
The mechanical engineer managed to get a New Zealand managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) a couple of times but could not find flights that matched them. He did not try the last two virtual lobbies because it seemed unlikely that he would get a seat and then be able to get flights that matched.
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“There was nowhere I could have been from April 2021 until now,” he wrote to Swedish authorities.
“Every European country I looked at had closed borders, at least to Sweden, and traveling home was virtually impossible. I would have traveled as a tourist, which is limited to three months, and was strictly forbidden. ”
There was also a chance that he would not have been able to return to Sweden.
He now appeals the Swedish authorities’ decision on the grounds that there were “major practical difficulties and significant costs to apply for from the home country”.
“If we do not win this appeal, it will be much harder for us, and they have already been pretty damn tough in recent years,” he said.
Jansson has a rare and chronic lung condition that involves blood clots in the lungs and she had difficulty breathing. That, on top of her daughter – who did not remember a time he was not around – meant leaving in the middle of the pandemic was not a profitable option.
Jensen originally went to Sweden in December 2018, met Jansson and returned to live in February 2019. His work visa expired in March.
The ideal solution was for him to stay in Sweden because he did not think that Jansson could live in New Zealand, even when the borders reopened.
But, in addition to having to return to his home country for visa purposes, he would like to take Jansson back to meet his family.
“I would love to see my family, do all summer, Christmas,” he said.
MIQ’s co-head Megan Main did not comment on the details of Jensen’s case, but said New Zealand’s MIQ system had an emergency allocation process for people who needed to enter the country as soon as possible within the next 14 days.
Applications were reviewed on a case-by-case basis and people who could not stay in their current country and had no choice but to return to New Zealand were potentially eligible.
The validity of the visa was not sufficient to obtain an emergency grant and applicants would also need to show that they had tried to extend their stay abroad and if they were nationals of other countries they would have to explain why they could not go there.
Even meeting these criteria did not mean a guaranteed room, she said.
“These decisions are not easy to make, and we sympathize with the plight of people applying for an emergency.”