Family split by immigration ruling

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014
kumar
Fairfax

Savitri Kumar, left, is leaving her husband Shiu, and their other three children to care for another daughter in Fiji, Arishma, who was denied a visitor's visa.

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Harsh immigration laws are stopping a sick young woman from visiting her family, her Fijian-Indian parents say.

Their daughter, Archana Arishma Kumar, 20, who has a hole in her heart, is struggling to survive alone in the family home in Nadi, Fiji.

Neighbours found her collapsed on the floor last week.

Her distraught mother and father, Savitri and Shiu Kumar, of New Plymouth, who along with the rest of their family have residency, have now gone public as a last resort to appeal to authorities to soften their stance and allow Arishma a visitor's visa.

A tearful Savitri Kumar told the Taranaki Daily News she must now leave her husband and their three other children and return to Fiji.

"I can't leave my daughter like that. There is no-one to look after her if she gets sick.

"I am going back permanently to look after her and our family is breaking up."

When younger, Arishma was given a student visa that allowed her to stay with her family and go to school in New Plymouth.

"She was never sick when she was here.

"She was so happy here," her mother said.

Specialists have informed the family there is no surgical or medical treatment that can help. The diagnosis is that her congenital heart condition will worsen.

Arishma Kumar said from Fiji yesterday that she was missing her family a lot and wants to be with them.

‘I feel really low and alone always, and this causes more tension and stress and then I get sick."

She had mixed feelings about her mother coming to care for her. "I am happy that my mother is coming to stay with me but I'm also very sad."

An Immigration New Zealand manager said the organisation "completely rejects" any assertion it was responsible for forcing the Kumar family apart.

"INZ acknowledges the difficulty of the situation facing Miss Kumar and her family and has done everything it could over the years to facilitate Miss Kumar remaining in New Zealand lawfully while exercising her options to gain residence," INZ operations support area manager Michael Carley said yesterday in a statement.

"INZ has declined to grant a visitor visa to Miss Kumar as she does not have an acceptable standard of health and has previously been unlawfully in New Zealand," Carley said.

The daughter was not included in the family's application for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category in August 2008, he said.

When she did apply for residence as a dependent child in February 2010, INZ declined both the application and a medical waiver citing an unacceptable standard of health.

"It is a key requirement that all non-New Zealanders coming to New Zealand must have an acceptable standard of health so as not to impose undue costs on the public health system," Carley said.

The Kumars dispute the claim that Arishma overstayed her permit. They believe she was granted extra time to appeal and left for Fiji on the date she was given in January last year.

They have offered to sign a bond to pay all her medical costs.

Carley said the Immigration and Protection Tribunal dismissed an appeal backing up the decision "because no evidence was put forward that treatment of her condition would cost less than $25,000". The IPT said it was in no doubt she was not included in the rest of the family's application because her health would have jeopardised the application for the entire family "and that it was disingenuous for Miss Kumar's parents to assert otherwise".

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The IPT also found there were no special circumstances to take to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse. When the young woman requested intervention by the Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye, she declined to intervene, Carley said.

Yesterday New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young said his office had been engaging with the Kumars since 2009 and made representations to the associate minister of Immigration.

"I feel we've gone the extra mile with them but their applications and appeals have been declined by Immigration NZ."

- Taranaki Daily News

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