Migrant says visa refusal is death sentence

Sanil Kumar has a week to leave the country. Photo / Richard Robinson
Sanil Kumar has a week to leave the country. Photo / Richard Robinson

A Fijian migrant who needs a life-saving kidney transplant says he has been given a "death sentence" by immigration officials who will deport him if he does not leave New Zealand.

The Labour Party has warned the Government that "heartlessly" deporting Sanil Kumar, 30, to Fiji - where dialysis facilities are scarce, costly and risky - could be fatal.

Mr Kumar wants to remain in the country, on dialysis, until he has raised $130,000 for a transplant. Family members have offered him a kidney and have helped to amass $43,000 in three months by holding fundraisers.

But he has reached an impasse with Immigration New Zealand, which refused to renew his visa in July because his tradesman skills were not in demand.

After several appeals he was given a 28-day grace period. The deadline was today, but officials have extended it for a week to allow him to make travel arrangements.

Immigration New Zealand compliance operations manager Natalie Gardiner said yesterday that if Mr Kumar left voluntarily he would be able to return on a temporary visa for a transplant once he had raised the funds for an operation. But if he was deported, he would be banned from returning to New Zealand for five years.

Mr Kumar, who lives in Glendene, undergoes eight hours of peritoneal dialysis sessions each night. He says the same treatment would be unaffordable in Fiji at around $1050 for each of three weekly sessions.

"It would be a death sentence if I leave," he told the Herald. "And how would I raise any money for a transplant?"

He appealed to Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye, who was advised that he could switch to haemodialysis if his current treatment was not available in Fiji.

An operation to switch to haemodialysis costs around $30,000 and he would have to drive for six hours from his home in Ba to the clinic in Suva.

Immigration New Zealand refused to renew his visa last year because a labour market test found there were New Zealanders suitable for his job as a metal tradesman. But at Avondale Copper Rainwater Products, where Mr Kumar worked, no one has taken his job in eight months.

Labour Party immigration spokesman Raken Prasad urged the Government to be humane to a migrant who was costing the state nothing.

- Isaac Davison of the New Zealand Herald

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