The wife of a British emigrant was denied entry into New Zealand because the weighing scales did not tilt in her favor. Richie Trezise moved to New Zealand in September after shedding two inches from his waist by going on a crash diet. He contemplated abandoning the idea of emigrating if his wife was not allowed to come out by Christmas.
His wife, Rowan, has been rigorously trying to shed the pounds for months, so they can be reunited and live Down Under. Richie is a submarine cable specialist, who has also served in the Army. Still his employer-backed skills visa was initially rejected by immigration officials when his body mass index, or BMI, was found to be 42, making him morbidly obese.
But his wife Rowan, who planned to emigrate with him, has failed to pass the obesity test.
"My doctor laughed at me. He said he'd never seen anything more ridiculous in his whole life. He said not every overweight person is unhealthy or unfit," the Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
"The idea was that we were going to change our lifestyle totally and get outdoors and on mountain bikes and all sorts of activities," he added.
He was backed by Robyn Toomath, a spokesperson for Fight the Obesity Epidemic and an endocrinologist who said that the BMI limit was valid in the vast majority of people.
"It cannot afford to import people into the country who are going to be a significant drain on our health resources. You can see the logic in assessing if there is a significant health cost associated with this individual and that would be a reason for them not coming in," Toomath said.
New Zealand is critically short of skilled workers, and many large firms are intensively recruiting in Britain. Mr Trezise was recruited to supervise the Southern Cross Cable, which links New Zealand with Australia and the west coast of the United States.
He is one of only four highly qualified specialist technicians working on the improvement of the cable. The New Zealand Immigration Service said it did not know how many people were denied entry to the country because of high BMI readings.
However, comments posted on the Emigrate New Zealand website reveal that many people have been turned down after medical tests revealed that they were obese. Mr Trezise has private health care in New Zealand and his employer, Telecom, has a gym membership scheme.