09 June 2009

New Zealand immigration minister refutes New Zealand visa claims

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The New Zealand Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman has refuted claims from the media that the New Zealand immigration department denied a New Zealand visa because of her pregnancy.

This month, a story involving a pregnant Korean woman Sung Won Kim escalated in the media, and resulted in claims that the New Zealand immigration department would not renew her New Zealand visa

On behalf of the New Zealand immigration department, Dr Coleman has explained that the inaccuracies in the story have lead to a false view of the New Zealand immigration policy towards pregnancy. 

"It has been reported that Sung Won Kim is in New Zealand on a student visa. That in fact is not the case. Sung Won Kim and her partner entered New Zealand and were granted visitors' permits in March. She applied in April for a student permit which was declined because she was pregnant," Dr Coleman said.  

He further explained that New Zealand student permit holders are not required to leave the country, as contrarily described in the media this month, and that each New Zealand visa application is taken on a case-by-case basis.

However, New Zealand student permits are not granted to pregnant women because not only their study be inhibited during the term of their pregnancy and thereafter, but they will also place strain on the healthcare system and resources.  Despite offers to pay for healthcare services associated with pregnancies, the Government cannot afford to have an open healthcare and visa policy for foreigners on a New Zealand visitor's permit.

Dr Coleman said that while the government works hard to encourage overseas students to emigrate to New Zealand, other factors come into play when assessing a New Zealand visa application.

"Immigration policy is a delicate balancing act. Export education is a key industry for New Zealand and we want to make sure we have the right immigration policies to enable study in New Zealand. However it is unrealistic to expect student permits to be granted to pregnant women."

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their New Zealand visa application.

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