A family from Ireland have been forced to abandon their dream move to New Zealand after their final appeal to gain their daughter, who has Down syndrome, a visa was dismissed.

Bumikka Suhinthan, 15, was told she couldn't enter the country because her "health was not of an acceptable standard" and would impose excessive costs.

Mother Nilani Suhinthan, 52, told the Herald last December of the family's disappointment when Bumikka was first denied a visa.

"My younger girl broke into tears, she was very disappointed."


The family had planned to start a new life in Auckland, New Zealand, after she was headhunted for a $141,000-a-year IT consultant job.

She, her husband Nagarajah, 54, and other daughters Tanya, 19, and Saumia, 14, all received visas but Bumikka's rejection has shattered their dream.

The family, who now live in Dublin, previously lived in Buckinghamshire for 25 years until 2015.

From left: Tanya Suhinthan, Nilani Suhinthan, Bumikka Suhinthan, Saumia Suhinthan. Photo / Supplied
From left: Tanya Suhinthan, Nilani Suhinthan, Bumikka Suhinthan, Saumia Suhinthan. Photo / Supplied

Despite the family offering to pay for the extra support their daughter would need in school, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) ruled Bumikka would be too great a burden.

Mrs Suhinthan, who had already moved to New Zealand to prepare for the family's emigration, said she was told Bumikka 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 Bumikka wasn't considered a genuine visitor.

The mother and her husband Nagarajah, an engineer, have spent three months appealing the rejection, but a final hearing last week ruled the decision was final, the Daily Mail reports.

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.


"She doesn't completely understand why we're not going to New Zealand.

"They kept telling me she would cost them money to send her to a special school. My tax bill in one month would cover the school fees for the entire year.

"It just doesn't make any sense other than it being discriminatory. Bumikka has a moderate disability, but she can talk, walk and dress herself. She only needs supervision and extra help in the classroom.

"So I don't understand why they would reject her temporary visa other than being discriminatory.

The Suhinthan family, from left: Tanya, Nilani, Saumia, Bumikka and Nagarajah. Photo / Supplied
The Suhinthan family, from left: Tanya, Nilani, Saumia, Bumikka and Nagarajah. Photo / Supplied

"We were planning a new life over there. Instead we were just thrown in limbo.

"We had to spend Christmas Day in an apartment and had to have terrible Malaysian food instead of a Christmas dinner.

"The car I bought over there is just sitting in my sister's driveway. I couldn't just leave her in Ireland and move my other children to the other side of the world.

"I love my daughter too much to move the other side of the world but we were all looking forward to our new life."

She and her husband had emigrated from Sri Lanka in 1990, initially living in Buckinghamshire and then moving to Dublin in 2015.

Mrs Suhinthan was scouted for a job as a data mining specialist for a large US tech company in June last year, and moved over to get settled and await her family's arrival.

In November last year, a month before the move, they were told Bumikka's visa had been declined.

Her mother wrote to the Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi begging him to reconsider Bumikka's student visa application.

Bumikka 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 her mother's offer to pay the $7,800 needed every year, the country told her the scheme is a "finite resource" and can't be spared for an international citizen.

Mrs Suhinthan, who had to leave her New Zealand job and move back to Dublin, said she had been "completely let down".

A spokesman for New Zealand Immigration confirmed the visa had been denied on health grounds.

They said: "While we sympathise with the family's situation, all non-New Zealanders coming to New Zealand must have an acceptable standard of health so as not to impose undue costs or demands on New Zealand's public health system.

"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.

"The Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) is a limited resource available for all students in New Zealand and any teacher aide provided by the school would be part of the ORS.

"While INZ notes the family's intention to pay for the use of the teacher aide, the ability of a person or organisation to pay for education services has no bearing on whether an applicant is likely to impose significant costs on New Zealand's special education services.

"Furthermore, 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.

"INZ determined that due to Bumikka's circumstances, she couldn't be classified as a bona fide temporary visitor.

"With her entire family either working in New Zealand or intending to move to New Zealand, Immigration officials were not satisfied Bumikka could be considered a bona fide visitor."