Immigration sorry’ for holiday hell

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Immigration New Zealand has apologised for subjecting an elderly Belgian visitor to almost $2000 of medical tests and has offered to refund her. 

Mountain Scene
last week told how 79-year-old Luce Wilsens, on her 19th summer visit to Queenstown, was ordered to provide a medical certificate for a two-month extension to her three-month stay, despite holding health insurance. 

She’d had past extensions easily approved by Immigration NZ’s Dunedin office. 

But its new Remarkables Park branch at Frankton ordered the screenings – including tests for AIDS and syphilis – after a male officer said she’d accumulated too much extra time in the country. 

Wilsens endured intrusive tests by two doctors before a Dunedin cardiologist finally gave her an all-clear last month. 

Wilsens – who left for her home in Switzerland yesterday – says she spent almost $2000 on medical consultations, had to employ a lawyer and endured almost three months of stress. 

Her treatment by Immigration NZ “spoilt my holiday”, she told Mountain Scene. 

Immigration NZ this week stated it’s within its right to require a medical certificate. 

“But it was unnecessary to request one for Ms Wilsens and I would like to apologise to her for this,” delivery service boss Steve Cantlon says. 

“Immigration NZ is sympathetic to Ms Wilsens’ situation which is why, in February 2010, she was granted an extension to her visitor permit as an exception to policy.” 

Asked if Immigration NZ would refund her costs, Cantlon replied: “ … We would like to talk to Ms Wilsens about the costs she has incurred and refund options.” 

Wilsens says she’s not after money or an apology but is disappointed Immigration NZ still hasn’t confirmed she can return in October to celebrate her 80th birthday with local friends and stay almost six months. 

Cantlon, however, states: “We will do every-thing we can to make Ms Wilsens welcome when she returns to NZ for her 80th birthday celebrations later this year.”