Albert Buitenhuis may have won the battle but he says the war is not over yet.
The South African immigrant, once facing deportation for medical reasons, was earlier this month given a reprieve in the form of a 23-month visa.
Mr Buitenhuis and his wife Marthie have returned to Christchurch, have received their visas and are set to return to work at the Cashmere Club at the end of the month.
But despite the two-year reprieve, Mr Buitenhuis said the couple were struggling.
"Since the joy of the permits, reality settled in with a bang," he said.
"It feels like everywhere we go, doors slam shut in our faces."
They have been "reduced to beggars", Mr Buitenhuis said.
The couple have lived in Christchurch since 2007 but have been unable to work since May, when their visas were declined.
The pair owe almost $6000 to their previous landlord, owe their immigration agent "God knows how much" and are not able to get into a new flat because no bank will lend them money for a bond.
They are staying with the elderly parents of their friends in New Brighton.
"We not only lost our income for close on five months, we also lost all the little money we had saved up," Mr Buitenhuis said.
"To top it all, I must somehow, while paying of all this debt, save up the money to have a knee replacement."
In New Zealand, the knee operation would cost about $20,000 but Mr Buitenhuis was looking at travelling to India and having it done for half the cost.