Immigration New Zealand has made a U-turn on a decision to deny a Russian international student with disability a post-graduate work visa.
Although happy, 26-year-old Evgenii Liapin is now demanding an apology for discrimination and the threat of deportation.
An INZ spokeswoman confirmed that Liapin was invited to submit a request for reconsideration of the decision on his original application.
"This request for a reconsideration was received June 11, 2021, and included additional documents and information in support of his visa application," she said.
"INZ reassessed the visa application, weighing and balancing all the information available, and a post-study work visa was granted to Eugene on June 17 as an exception to instructions."
She also confirmed that Liapin had written to INZ seeking an apology.
"This has been lodged as a formal complaint and INZ is unable to comment further while the complaint is being considered.
Liapin was initially declined a post-graduate work visa despite completing a graduate diploma public relations programme because he has Kueburg Welander disease - a form of muscular disorder - and has to move around in a wheelchair.
The agency ruled in the original decision that Liapin could be a burden to NZ's health system if he was granted a visa.
It said he was not of an acceptable standard of health and deemed he was likely to impose significant costs and demands on the system.
Liapin said for four months, the agency had repeatedly requested him to provide additional documents but these were "later completely ignored".
He said INZ's decision put him on the brink of being unlawful in NZ and under the threat of being deported.
"What happened over the period turned my life and the lives of my family members into hell."
Liapin also said that a letter the agency sent to him on April 7, stating he was "unable to work or study" deeply hurt him and negatively affected his mental wellbeing.
"I am still deeply depressed. I feel humiliated and discriminated against. My psychologist stated that it would take several months of therapy to restore my mental wellbeing," he said.
The original decision also hurt him financially, with costs incurred for "unnecessary" visits to doctors, translation, immigration adviser fees and psychologists.
"An apology will not change what has already happened, but it will help me and my family recover from our mental damage and make us believe in justice again," he said.
Liapin has a job offer as a casual social media manager for Denim for Dogs, a sustainability start-up based on the Kapiti Coast that turns discarded denim clothing into dog toys.
In an email response to Liapin, an INZ visa officer said some of the accusations and concerns had not previously been raised with the agency.
"I will therefore need some time to consider and fully investigate these," the officer said.
The visa approval means Liapin will get to remain with his 26-year-old wife Elizabeth Larina, also from Russia, who has been granted a post-study work visa after graduating from Waikato University.