, WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Dec 18 – An obese South African chef declared too fat to live in New Zealand has given up the immigration battle to return home, reports said Friday.
Albert Buitenhuis and his wife Marthie have been fighting to stay in the Pacific nation for the last two years after an application to renew their work visas was first rejected because of his weight.
They won a 23-month reprieve only to be denied again.
“Our visa was finally declined and we had to stop working at the end of October,” Buitenhuis told Friday’s New Zealand Herald.
“Their reasons for declining us this time were I’m not seen as a bona fide worker and the employer did not do enough to get a Kiwi in the job.”
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) cited in 2013 the demands his obesity could place on the country’s health services and said medical assessors found Albert no longer “had an acceptable standard of health”.
INZ said his obesity put him at “significant risk” of medical complications.
The couple said they moved from South Africa to the main South Island city of Christchurch in 2007 when Albert weighed 160 kilograms (353 pounds) and their annual work visas were renewed without any problem.
Despite him losing 30 kilograms, an attempt to obtain permanent residency failed in 2011.
“We have been selling all our belongings to try and raise the funds to settle our affairs here and leave on a good foot,” Albert told the daily.
They were set to fly home to Pretoria next Thursday.
The OECD lists New Zealand as the third most obese developed nation behind the United States and Mexico.