NZ motorsport legend Rod Millen embroiled in travel ban battle
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Rallying legend Rod Millen has faced many challenges on the track, but one of the hardest is the current he and his wife, Shelly Campbell, are currently in the middle of with Immigration New Zealand.
Campbell has been rejected eight times to be approved to fly back from the US by Immigration New Zealand; claiming that no reasoning has been supplied by the organisation even though Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern assured the country that spouses of Kiwis would be approved to return to New Zealand.
"I have applied eight times over 15 weeks and have been denied time after time with absolutely no reasoning," said Campbell in a Leadfoot Festival social media post.
"Immigration/border control sends a no reply email so they can hide behind their computer and not answer to anyone. I returned to California to help my blind mother the end of February and have not been able to return home to my husband.
"I have offered to pay for quarantine, give them whatever information they want, take any tests they want ... but nothing. Just 'Your request to be considered under the COVID-19 travel ban exception process has not been successful'.
"Yesterdays denial said i was already in New Zealand so i didn't qualify. [...] Would i be applying if I was in New Zealand? Who is making these decisions?"
Millen is best known for his history-making exploits at Pikes Peak as a factory driver for Toyota, as well as previous rallying stints with Mazda and others. Most recently, Millen and Campbell's homegrown Leadfoot Festival event in Hahei has exploded in popularity — regularly hosting race cars and drivers from around the globe alongside some of the most exotic and quickest cars in the country.
Speaking to RNZ's Morning Report, Millen described the situation as "very frustrating". He referenced that Immigration New Zealand "questioned the legitimacy" of his marriage with Cambell, with evidence in the form of joint bank accounts and billing documents not being enough to prevent being denied. Millen believes the main reason for the repeated denials is the couple's unique travelling patterns.
"Shelley has never stayed in New Zealand for more than 30 days at a time. [...] It's unusual; she travels to New Zealand every two or three weeks and she's been doing that for a long time. Sometimes I travel with her, but a lot of the time she travels by herself. She's applying to come to New Zealand and they're claiming she's already living here when they clearly see, from her passport, what her travel movements are."
On a response to RNZ, Immigration New Zealand said Campbell didn't meet the criteria for return approval.
"Partners of New Zealand citizens or residents who are not travelling together, do not hold a valid relationship-based visa or are not ordinarily resident in New Zealand will still be subject to the border restrictions, unless they meet another border exception criteria," it said.