18 February 2009

Obese American woman denied New Zealand visa

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An obese woman living in New Zealand has been refused permanent residency because of her weight.

According to the Otago Daily Times, the woman weighed in at 135kg and has a body mass index of 50.  After an initial rejection of her application for a permanent New Zealand visa, the woman appealed the decision of Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

Immigration New Zealand denied the woman's application because of the strain she would pose on the national health system.  Under New Zealand immigration law, people who have over 35 cannot be granted permanent residency.  She also has type 2 diabetes and a high chance of developing heart disease, arthritis, cancer, gout and increased blood pressure.  In just the next four years, medical professionals believe her condition would demand $25,000 from the health system.

The unnamed woman and her husband initially scored well on their New Zealand visa applications because of their qualifications; her husband is a butcher with an Arts degree and a culinary qualification, while the wife has business qualifications as well as 17 years experience in design.

In order to gain approval for permanent New Zealand visas, however, one must pass the health and character requirements to ensure that migrants do not put strain on the health system and pose a security risk to New Zealanders.

The woman has appealed to the INZ after succeeding in a weight loss programme (she has lost 24.5kg since it started) and argues her contribution to the New Zealand economy would outweigh her annual costs for her weight loss programme (around $1000), although officials have denied the appeal.

The INZ board said the couple "had the potential to have a relatively significant contribution to New Zealand through their skills and experience, it was not compelling enough to outweigh the potential cost (the wife) was likely to impose on the NZ health service."

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