11 June 2009

Lack of Australian Citizenship a surprise to navy recuit

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A young navy recruit only weeks from graduating could be forced to resign because of a chance discovery that she is not an Australian citizen or a permanent resident.

Brooke Carroll, 19, was born in Australia to New Zealand parents and has lived here most of her life, except for nine years between the ages of four and 13.

The Courier Mail reported that as part of her naval training Ms Carroll applied for an Australian passport, and it was only then discovered she does not have Australian Citizenship and is not considered to have an Australian permanent residency status.

Mother Robyn Jones said they thought Brooke was automatically an Australian citizen as she was born in Australia and had lived most of her life in Australia.

A Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) spokeswoman said people born in Australia after August 20, 1986, only became Australian citizens at birth if at least one parent was a citizen or permanent visa holder at the time.

If a person was born in Australia to parents who were not citizens or permanent visa holders, they had to live in Australia until their 10th birthday to gain automatic citizenship.

Ms Carroll is due to graduate after almost a year of midshipman officer training on HMAS Cresswell at Jervis Bay and Nowra, before continuing to the Australian Defence Force Academy in January. But she cannot do this if she was not an Australian citizen or have Australian permanent residency.

The DIAC spokeswoman said they were "sympathetic" to Ms Carroll's situation and would continue to explore any available options for her to become an Australian permanent visa holder, which would put her on "the pathway to citizenship".

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with Australian visas applications and emigration to Australia.

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