A BRIT family’s dreams of a new life in New Zealand have been shattered after their teenage daughter was denied a visa – because she has Down’s Syndrome.
Bumikka Suhinthan, 15, was told she did not have an “acceptable standard of health” and giving her a visa would likely “impose significant costs” on health and education services.
Her parents Nilani, 52, and Nagarajah, 53, and sisters Tanya, 19, and Saumia, 14, all got visas to live and study in Auckland.
Mrs Suhinthan was headhunted for an $140,000 (£74,000) IT consultant job there, and Bumikka has already been offered a place at a college.
Nilani said she was told Bumikka, from Little Chalfont, Bucks., would be eligible for a temporary visitor visa, so the family could spend Christmas Day in New Zealand.
But despite booking flights, they were stopped from boarding their connecting flight in Malaysia, because of Bumikka wasn’t considered a genuine visitor.
It’s complete discrimination. I’ve always told her she isn’t any different but this tears it up
Nilani and dad Nagarajah, an engineer, have spent three months appealing the rejection, but a final hearing last week ruled the decision was final.
Nilani, who lives in Dublin, said: “It’s complete discrimination. I’ve always told her she isn’t any different but this tears it up.
“My tax bill in one month would cover the school fees for the entire year.
“We were planning a new life over there.
“I love my daughter too much to move the other side of the world but we were all looking forward to our new life.”
Bummikka would need to take part in the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) – a national resource which provides support for students in need of special education to join in and learn alongside other students at school.
But despite Nilani’s offer to pay the $7,800 (£5,923) needed every year, the country told her the scheme is a “finite resource” and can’t be spared for an international citizen.
Nilani, who had to leave her New Zealand job and move back to Dublin, said: “For someone to be rejected from a western country purely because she has Down’s Syndrome is just outrageous.
“I’ve had so many sleepless nights since it all happened.”
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A spokesman for New Zealand Immigration said: “Immigration New Zealand (INZ) can confirm that Bumikka Suhinthan’s application for a student visa was declined as she did not meet the health requirements as set out in the immigration instructions for student visas.
“In Bumikka’s case, the medical assessor determined that the granting of a visa would likely impose significant costs and/or demands on New Zealand’s health and special education services.
“Regardless of how it is funded, the teacher aide would still come from the ORS and would result in another New Zealand child being unable to access the skills of that teacher aide.”
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