09 June 2009

New Zealand immigration gives second chance to pregnant woman

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The New Zealand immigration department has overruled an initial decision to not renew a Lithuanian woman's New Zealand visitor visa because of her pregnancy.

The woman applied to the New Zealand immigration department for an extension on her New Zealand visitor visa after being told by a doctor that she was too far into the term of her pregnancy to risk travelling home. 

Initially, the New Zealand immigration department denied her application for a visa extension; however, after reassessing the situation the woman was offered an extension to her permit.

According to Stuff.co.nz, the woman, her husband and her son were not contactable by the New Zealand immigration department to inform them of their New Zealand visa application success.  It was not until they contacted the husband's lawyer that they discovered they would be also now applying for a New Zealand business visa.

New Zealand immigration minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said that the initial decision to deny the woman's New Zealand visa application for an extension to her visitor visa was not in line with the department's humanitarian policy.

''I believe that declining the permit was a poor decision by the department,'' Dr Coleman said.

''I am pleased that common sense has prevailed and that the woman has now been issued a permit allowing her to stay in New Zealand.''

Chief executive of the New Zealand immigration department Andrew Annakin said that usually pregnant woman on a New Zealand visitor visa are not allowed to remain in the country to give birth, but that in this case the department had to bend the rules.

Dr Coleman is currently backing a restructuring of the culture and decision-making process of the New Zealand immigration department after a report found a barrage if discrepancies.

"The Auditor-General's report highlighted the need for improvement at all levels of the organisation. Substantial improvements to decision making and service as outlined in that report must be made," he said.

In related news, Dr Coleman this week refuted claims from the media that the New Zealand immigration department denied another woman a New Zealand visa because of her pregnancy, and has defended the New Zealand immigration departments decision to not approve her New Zealand visa application to study in New Zealand.

"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," he said.


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