A Belgian 89-year-old who’s frequented Queenstown for 27 summers is overjoyed she’s won a massive battle with Immigration New Zealand to prolong her latest visit.
Immigration NZ has bent its rules to grant Luce Wilsens, whose plight featured in Mountain Scene last week, a two-year visitor visa.
Switzerland-based Wilsens had battled for 22 months, at huge expense, to get the visa result, she wasn’t able to visit last summer.
In September, she arrived on a three-month visitor visa, only, but had been confident she’d satisfied Immigration NZ’s onerous requirements for the two-year visa.
At the last moment, however, she was told she’d need to provide $500,000 medical cover for two years an impossible demand, given her age.
As a result, she faced the prospect of having to return to her snow-bound chalet late this month, which local friend Josef Kobele says would have devastated her.
Last Friday, she visited her Queenstown AWS Legal lawyers, Rachel Buckley and Chantal Ryan, to get an update on her case.
She went along with Kobele and another local friend, Micha Lenk, who’d also been helping her.
“She was really terrified that they were going to give her bad news,” Kobele says.
Instead, they appeared with a bottle of bubbles and five glasses.
Wilsens “nearly fainted”, Ko-bele says.
Immigration NZ’s border and visa operations boss Nicola Hogg says she was granted a temporary retirement visitor visa “after careful consideration of all the factors in her case”.
“This included Ms Wilsens’ long history of visits to NZ, her positive immigration history, her acceptable standard of health and her financial resources.
“On this basis, it was decided her visa could be approved as an exception to instructions.”
A delighted Wilsens says that thanks to “immense help” from Lenk and her husband Klaus, Kobele and his wife Shirley, both lawyers, local MP Hamish Walker and his local secretary Paula Denton, and Mountain Scene, “my dearest wish in life has come true”.
“I am overjoyed beyond measure that I have been granted my two-year visa.”