Can't import project exported from an older gitlab version

The first time I tried importing, I changed the VERSION file in the exported archive to say the correct version (0.15 to 0.18). However, after trying with the modified archive, I’m now getting the following error when trying to import.

Error importing repository  into sadmansk/archie - Cloning into bare repository '[REPOS PATH]/user_name/project_name.git'...
fatal: Invalid gitfile format: [REPO EXPORT PATH]/user_name/project_name/project.bundle
fatal: Could not read from remote repository.

Please make sure you have the correct access rights
and the repository exists.

I do not have control over the original gitlab instance, hence I can’t upgrade that instance. I also searched for this issue to no avail. So I was wondering if someone could help me with this issue, it would be of great help.

I think it’s was that you can only import to the same version as the one you export from.
Try setting up gitlab with the old version locally on your own pc and import to that and then do an upgrade and then do an export and then do an import to the instance you wanted.