Immigration mulls future of US man

Last updated 13:00 27/11/2013
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Time may soon be up in New Zealand for Guy Verschuur, the worm-eating American who came to public attention after a search in Golden Bay which later led to the revelation he had been on a US offender register.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) says it is still assessing Mr Verschuur's case and has been in recent contact with him to clarify some details about his background.

It is also understood he still has outstanding debts totalling more than $2000 to several Nelson dentists.

Guy Verschuur, 51, arrived in New Zealand on a visitor visa in December 2002, and was later granted a residence visa. Questions about his presence in New Zealand arose after publicity in April when he was overdue on a tramping trip in Golden Bay.

A three-day tramp turned into a 10-day ordeal when he and two women were forced to stay at Anatoki Forks Hut and said they experimented with eating worms.

Mr Verschuur had been convicted in the US of first-degree false imprisonment of a minor in January 1998. Nebraska State police were reported to be looking at making a criminal case against Mr Verschuur for leaving the US without notification.

Speaking after he and two companions were found overdue in a national park hut, Mr Verschuur said he had been convicted of "false imprisonment with sexual intentions" in the US.

"I had a major hypoglycemic attack and reached out to someone during the attack. There was fabrication on the other side of what my intention was, " he said of the 1998 incident. "The person was scared. It's understandable the person was scared."

Mr Verschuur, who lived in a housebus at a friend's property near Takaka, said then he had sought legal advice when he was thinking of leaving the US, because his record was close to being expunged.

He said he "acted on what he was instructed to do". He later discovered his legal advice was incorrect.

INZ said then Mr Verschuur had declared his criminal conviction when he applied for residence in 2008, and he had been granted a residence visa for this country without the character waiver usually required for applicants with convictions.

Mr Verschuur could not be contacted now for comment.

INZ area manager Michael Carley said its assessment process could take some time and it was important that a robust process was followed. It was not possible to say when a decision would be made.

There had been no change to Mr Verschuur's immigration status and he remained in New Zealand.

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