03 December 2012

British family facing deportation from New Zealand due to brain tumour

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A British family living in New Zealand are facing the threat of deportation after father, Paul, 47, was diagnosed with a brain tumour meaning he can no longer work, violating the terms of this New Zealand Visa.

New Zealand visa

The Onewhero community has banded together to help the Crystal family in their struggle to remain in New Zealand.

The Crystal family, which also includes Sarah and three children aged between seven and 17, moved to New Zealand in 2006 so Mr Crystal could drive petrol tankers for Caltex. Three years later the family changed New Zealand visa streams in order to set up their own businesses.

However, just months before the family would have been eligible to apply for permanent residency and therefore qualify for state medical benefits, Mr Crystal collapsed behind the wheel.

"I was actually driving to a new contract when I had a seizure," said Mr Crystal.

"I just had to pull over. I was gone for 20 minutes. Sarah was with me and when I came to, there was an ambulance there."

Surgeons operated on Mr Crystal and removed a 'golf ball sized' tumour from his brain which has left him unable to work.

"Unfortunately, this left me with a large blind area on my left-side and a constantly dizzy sensation, which feels like I am repeatedly free-fall skydiving," he said.

"This results in my constantly bumping into and tripping over things. My short-term memory is really terrible. I get up to do something, usually trip over something on the way, and have forgotten what it was I got up for."

The operation left Mr Crystal unable to work in almost any capacity and needs to lie down after even short exertions. He was originally given just 12 months to live and, despite living a further two years, doctors still only give him a 20% chance of surviving a further three years.

Mrs Crystal has managed to keep the family's two business going throughout the ordeal but after working herself too hard, another tragedy struck which derailed the family.

"I did all the businesses, I never stopped," said Mrs Crystal.

"Trouble really started because I worked myself so hard that in the middle of winter last year I got pneumonia. That knocked me for six or eight weeks and we got behind on our bills and everything just sank."

The family was forced to begin selling off assets to make ends meet and have now had their permanent residence application rejected because of Mr Crystal's inability to work, meaning the family now face deportation to Britain.

However, as the family have been out of the UK for longer than two years, even if they could afford the NZ$8,000 (£4,000) flights home, they would be ineligible for state healthcare in the UK.

Work and Income NZ head Debbie Power has confirmed she is looking into the case and may yet decide to grant the Crystal family emergency benefit for medical treatment while the Immigration and Protection Tribunal reviews their case.

The family's appeal is being assisted by local MP Lindsay Tisch who said the family 'have done everything right but circumstances have moved against them'.

In the meantime the Crystal family are relying on the community in Onewhero, northern Waikato, for help. Reverend Alan Roe of the Onewhero Anglican Church has spurred the community into action and have already raised money to contribute toward the family's appeal.

"We don't even know half the people. Sometimes they just turn up with an ice cream tub full of soup," said Mrs Crystal.

A fund has been set up to help the Crystal's with their plight. Donations can be sent to:

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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