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Hefty problem for South African considered too fat for New Zealand

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) cited in 2013 the demands his obesity could place on the country's health services and said medical assessors found Albert no longer "had an acceptable standard of health".

Hefty Problem For South African Considered Too Fat For New Zealand

INZ said his obesity put him at "significant risk" of medical complications.

The couple have been legally living and working in the Southern New Zealand city Wellington. Now the couple plan on returning to South Africa after Albert’s application to have his visa renewed was rejected for not passing the New Zealand visa health requirements by being clinically obese.

The couple won a reprieve 23 months ago after their initial visa renewal application was rejected. Their second application have now also been unsuccessful and this time the New Zealand government cited that Albert’s employer had not done enough to fill the chef position by a local, but Buitenhuis is sure the visa renewal application failed for the same reasons second time around.

"Our visa was finally declined and we had to stop working at the end of October," Buitenhuis told Friday's New Zealand Herald.

"Their reasons for declining us this time were I'm not seen as a bona fide worker and the employer did not do enough to get a Kiwi in the job."

Sub-Saharan Africa South Africa has the dubious honour of having the highest percentage of its population being overweight and obese. In fact a staggering 61% of the South African population is, according to medical guidelines, considered overweight or obese.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) cited in 2013 the demands his obesity could place on the country's health services and said medical assessors found Buitenhuis no longer "had an acceptable standard of health" adding that his obesity put him at "significant risk" of medical complications – which could potentially place a strain on state coffers should Buitehuis have to undergo a medical procedure or be placed on chronic care for lifestyle diseases associated being overweight.

The couple said they moved from South Africa to the main South Island city of Christchurch in 2007 when Albert weighed 160kg and their annual work visas were renewed without any problem.

Despite him losing 30 kilograms, an attempt to obtain permanent residency failed in 2011.

"We have been selling all our belongings to try and raise the funds to settle our affairs here and leave on a good foot," Albert told the daily.

They were set to fly home to Pretoria next Thursday.

The OECD lists New Zealand as the third most obese developed nation behind the United States and Mexico.

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