Brits struggle to gain NZ residency for autistic son
British parents have been told that their son may not be able to gain residency status in New Zealand because of the costs of dealing with his suspected autism. The couple, who came to New Zealand with their eldest son in 2007, have since had second son born in Taupo.
Ian Fitch works as an operational manager while his wife Claire, who is trained as a land and estate manager, works as a cleaner part time while looking after the family. The pair applied for residency in March 2011 but have been forced a hold off applying for residency for their eldest son due to a health clause under immigration guidelines.
According to Claire, the family may be forced to return to Britain as they have been told they only have a 30-40 per cent chance of success due to their oldest son’s suspected autisms. Nathaniel, now six, goes to mainstream school but is supported with money supplied to the school by the Education Ministry.
Claire says they have never had Nathaniel officially diagnosed with autism because they don’t want “barriers to go up” against him. She added that he has a problem with social interaction as, although he can understand when people talk to him, he finds it difficult to respond.
The couple claims their sons loves his teachers and school, and that it is unfair that he may be denied residency because of the cost of his education. Mr Fitch says he understands about the cost to New Zealand tax payers, but adds that Nathaniel has been brought up as a Kiwi and the couple have always paid their taxes and never claimed benefits.
According to Jan Clark, an operations support manager for New Zealand Immigration, the family’s residency application is yet to be decided. She added that a medical waiver may need to be considered for Nathaniel.
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