With roughly 30% of all adults classed as overweight in New Zealand, a South African chef may have had the surprise of his life when he was told he was facing deportation for being too fat. Albert Buitenhuis visa renewal was initially rejected on the grounds that he did not have "an acceptable standard of health". However, upon appeal, the rejection was overturned for a further twenty three months.
The main condition of his accepted visa is that he will not be allowed access to any publicly-funded healthcare. Mr. Buitenhuis has osteoarthritis in his knee, which is directly impacted by his weight. So by removing the potential that he might be a burden on the healthcare from his visa the issue was removed and therefore, the rejection was over-turned.
In his appeal, Albert Buitenhuis showed that he had been taking steps to lose weight. In fact, since moving to New Zealand six years ago he lost roughly 4 and a half stone. However, after the rejection was overturned, Mr. Buitenhuis wrote about his experiences in his blog "The Too Fat Chef". He said that the decision was "bitter sweet" because he and his partner had lost their home fighting the appeal. He mentioned that while it was a relief that he could stay, he was "afraid of what lies ahead".
While it may seem like a surprise that his visa application was rejected on the premise he was overweight, it is one of the main conditions that anybody applying or renewing their visa must meet.
There has been increasing pressure from the government to reduce the number of obese people in the country. With roughly 30% of the whole adult population overweight, New Zealand has one of the highest obesity rates in the developed world.
One of the areas that the government can directly control is the number of 'unhealthy' adults they let into the country on a temporary or permanent visa. Therefore, they have made it their goal to clamp down on the number of accepted applications from people with health issues that they have direct control over. The immigration department has now openly stated that "all migrants" have to have an acceptable standard of health to lower the financial impact on the health services in New Zealand.