2 Jun 2009

Policy on temporary visas defended

8:02 pm on 2 June 2009

Immigration New Zealand says it is standard policy to deny temporary visas to people who may be a burden on the country's health service.

The government service has told an expectant mother in New Zealand on a temporary permit that she must leave to have her baby, due to a demand on maternity services.

The rule applies even if women are able to pay for their medical care.

The International College of Auckland is angry a Korean woman has been denied a student visa to replace her visitor's permit, which is about to expire.

The woman wants to become a student and study horticulture. She wants to stay in New Zealand to have the baby and has offered to pay all her medical expenses but the Immigration Service has denied the request.

The college says overseas students should not be penalised for being pregnant. Principal James Zhu says this is a breach of human rights, as New Zealand women are not prevented from studying or working and being mothers.

The head of the Immigration Service, Andrew Annakin, says the issue is not just about money.

Mr Annakin says whether New Zealand's health service can handle additional dependents is also taken into account.

He says it is standard policy to seek a medical certificate from people applying for a temporary visa and believes the practice is common in other countries.