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Koreans: Let student have baby in NZ

By Lincoln Tan

Korean community leaders are urging the Government to allow a pregnant Korean student to have her baby in New Zealand.

Immigration NZ has told horticulture student Sung Won Kim, 31, that she is not eligible for a further permit and has to leave New Zealand by June 21 for becoming pregnant.

She has offered to pay her full medical and maternity costs up front - because she does not want to be apart from her husband, also on a temporary permit, who runs a car business in New Lynn - but Immigration says she would still be putting additional strain on New Zealand's stretched maternity services.

In a letter dated May 22 to Ms Kim, Immigration NZ wrote: "The fact that you are prepared to pay for all medical treatment has been accepted. However, NZ has a shortage of maternity care specialists and midwives, therefore you would be putting additional strain on our already short services."

The high-profile committee behind the proposed $1.5 million Korean Garden in Takapuna has written to Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman urging him to intervene.

Dr Coleman, who is also MP for Northcote, said he had asked for supporting documents on Ms Kim's application to be forwarded to him after Stanley Park, spokesman for the committee and former director of the Korean Society, telephoned him yesterday.

"Mr Park told me he had an individual immigration case he wanted me to look at, and I have asked him to write to me with the details."

Korean Society president Paul Yoo, speaking through a translator, said the society would be expressing concerns over how the Immigration NZ decision would affect New Zealand as an international study destination.

He said that the shortage of maternity services should not be used as an excuse to prevent students from completing their studies here.

"Women who are married or in a stable relationship, and who are able to pay for their own medical costs, should not be denied their right to have a baby."

Mr Park said the immigration ruling would set a dangerous precedent.

"It will make temporary migrants who become pregnant go into hiding, and avoid health checks and doctors' visits. This will make it dangerous not just for the mother-to-be, but also for the baby," he said.

"I think the immigration decision to bar temporary residents from having babies is just lacking in common sense."

A spokeswoman for Shakti, which runs four refuges for Asian, African and Middle Eastern women, said it had seen cases of women shielding their pregnancy from their partners - but did not have any that involved international students or women on temporary visas and immigration authorities.

Under current immigration policy, an applicant who is pregnant is deemed to have an "unacceptable standard of health" because she is "likely to impose significant costs or demands on NZ's health services during her period of intended stay".

However, a spokesman for the Department of Labour, which oversees Immigration NZ, said: "There are limited circumstances in which a medical waiver can be considered."

- NZ Herald

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