Passport problem hinges on dates

WHEN Purga 14-year-old Letisha Hughes needed to renew her expired Australian passport, she thought it'd be a routine process.

Instead her parents were instructed to “prove” that she was an Australian citizen, by paying and waiting for a citizenship certificate they were told in 2005 that their daughter would never need.

Her mother Trina said Letisha was born in Australia when her parents were still New Zealanders.

“She had an Australian passport, which expired in 2000,” Mrs Hughes said.

“Evidently the government has changed the Immigration Act.

“The whole thing's crazy. It's cost me $55 plus registered post, and it's the inconvenience.

“I don't appreciate paying extra money.

“I have since spoken to or heard about three other people who are going through the same thing.”

Thankfully, Letisha's citizenship certificate took only three weeks to arrive instead of the anticipated 10 to 12 weeks.

Her younger sister's passport was renewed with no problems.

The Australian Passport Office told The Ipswich Advertiser that the Australian Citizenship Amendment Act 1986 and the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, administered by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, specified that a person born in Australia on or after August 20, 1986, did not automatically obtain Australian citizenship.

“The APO is required to sight certain documents to establish an applicant's Australian citizenship status,” a spokesman said.

“January 1, 2000, is significant as on that date passport technology was enhanced to take into account heightened requirements for the security and integrity of the Australian passport.

“Passports issued prior to this date are not acceptable as proof of citizenship, as they do not meet current international standards.

“While it might appear inconsistent to accept a previous passport for one applicant and not another, the critical consideration is the date that the previous passport was issued.”

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