25 January 2012

Body waits in morgue over New Zealand visa row

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The body of a New Zealand resident has remained in an Auckland morgue since New Year’s Day while his Sri Lankan son desperately tries to secure a New Zealand visa so he can attend his father's funeral.

New Zealand visa

Mr Mylavaganam's body has remained in an Auckland morgue for 24 days while his family tries to secure a New Zealand visa.

New Zealand immigration officials have refused to grant Vamatheva Mylavaganam, as well as his sister Kamaluaruby, visas on the grounds that they were both "at risk of breaching conditions of visas and becoming overstayers."

A spokesperson for Immigration New Zealand said they had reason to believe the son was living in India illegally and that the siblings "do not appear to have genuine reasons to return to Sri Lanka [after the funeral] for personal, occupational or financial reasons".

Suppiah Mylavaganam died at the age of 78 on New Year’s Day in Auckland where he had lived with New Zealand visa holding members of his family. As Mr Mylavaganam was Hindu, his family had hoped his son would be able to attend the funeral to perform the customary last rights, something only a son can do in the religion.

"In our culture, the son has to do the final things for his father, and my uncle was the only son" said Mr Mylavaganam's grandson Theeban Balaras.

New Zealand waives visa necessities for short stays for citizens from many countries, but Sri Lanka is not among them. The spokesperson for Immigration New Zealand claimed they had taken humanitarian reasons into consideration but that not enough documentation had been provided to grant the visa.

Mr Balaras has rejected these reasons and intends to appeal the decision, claiming the family are willing to pay a bond to guarantee that the visiting relatives would not overstay the terms of their visas.

While an appeal takes place, Mr Mylavaganam's body remains in the morgue where, according to experts, it can last for as long as 18 months if properly embalmed.

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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