29 Jul 2013

Obese man won't be deported from NZ yet

3:20 pm on 29 July 2013

An obese South African man won't be deported from New Zealand until after a formal decision on his case is made by the associate Minister of Immigration.

Albert Buitenhuis, who weighs 130kg and is technically obese, has been refused a work visa by Immigration New Zealand because of health reasons, AAP reports.

Immigration New Zealand said the application by Mr Buitenhuis for an Essential Skills work visa was declined because he "no longer had an acceptable standard of health" and may cost New Zealand too much in medical treatment.

Mr Buitenhuis and his wife Marthie have been in New Zealand since October 2007 on a number of visitor and working visas and claim "not a word" has been said about his weight before.

"They could have said that when I first applied for a visa. Six years down the line it's not fair to me," Mr Buitenhuis told Firstline on TV3.

Immigration New Zealand said the matter had not surfaced before because there are varying standards of medical testing for different visas, and when Mr Buitenhuis was subjected to more stringent examinations when applied for residency.

Those examinations found him too unhealthy to qualify for residency.

"Unless it is in the extreme, obesity will not in itself cause an applicant to fail health screening requirements," said INZ area manager Michael Carley.

Immigration New Zealand said Mr Buitenhuis has a chronic knee condition which needs surgery and his weight puts him at risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, some cancers and premature joint disease. He also has evidence of impaired glucose tolerance and an enlarged fatty liver.

"It is important that all migrants have an acceptable standard of health to minimise costs and demands on New Zealand's health services," Mr Carley said.