The South African chef who is facing deportation from New Zealand for being too fat has been given a 23-month extension, according to the BBC.
However, while Albert Buitenhuis, is allowed to remain in NZ for longer, he will not be allowed access to publicly-funded healthcare.
Chef Buitenhuis’ work visa renewal application had been rejected two months ago on grounds that he was too fat and did not have “an acceptable standard of health.”
According to reports, the South African man now weighs 130 kg and has lost 30kg since moving to Christchurch six years ago. Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye has said the main reason Mr. Buitenhuis’ application was rejected was because he suffered osteoarthritis in his knee.
Buitenhuis, who wrote about his experiences in a blog titled The Too Fat Chef described his visa extension to local media as “bittersweet” since immigration official Kaye informed him that he’d “have to meet any health costs himself”.
“Of course, we are pleased and relieved that we are now able to stay. But at the same time we would rather rewind so that none of this took place,” he said in an interview with Fairfax media.
“We are really starting from scratch again. We have lost thousands of dollars fighting this and we don’t know where we will live because our home is gone. I am glad the fight is over but I am still afraid of what lies ahead.”
Mr Buitenhuis says he aims to lose another 25kg over the next few months.
New Zealand has one of the highest obesity rates in the developed world, with nearly 30% of people overweight, according to the BBC.
The immigration department has said it is important that “all migrants have an acceptable standard of health to minimise costs and demands on New Zealand’s health services”.