Adopted daughter of Australian couple is DENIED visa to stay Down Under because of a bizarre citizenship loophole
- Stephanie Matthews, 24, grew up in Canada where she was born and adopted
- Her Queenslander parents John and Jennifer Matthews were there living abroad
- They have now returned home to retire and their daughter wants to join them
- But she cannot get citizenship as she was adopted privately under Canadian law
- The family are calling for flexibility in the legislation and awareness of the rules
A woman who was adopted at birth by an Australian couple has been denied a visa to live Down Under with her parents because of a loophole in citizenship laws.
Stephanie Matthews, 24, grew up in Canada, where she was born and adopted by Queenslanders John and Jennifer Matthews who were living and working abroad.
The Matthews have now returned home to retire but their daughter is not permitted to stay.
The Australian government will not grant her citizenship because she is not the biological child of citizens and was privately adopted under Canadian law.
Stephanie Matthews (pictured), 24, who was adopted and grew up in Canada, wants to remain in Australia with her parents who have returned home to retire but she has been denied citizenship
‘It’s really hard, it’s difficult because growing up I’ve never felt discriminated or different for being adopted. It’s something I always thought was special about me,’ Ms Mathews told 9News.
‘And to know that I have an end date when I need to go home and leave everyone is really hard knowing that my parents and extended family can live here and I can’t.
‘It puts a lot of stress on our family.’
Ms Matthews tried to get a subclass 102 adoption visa but was told the application had to be submitted while she was still under 18 years of age.
The dental assistant also explored the option of sponsorship through an employer but her occupation does not classify her as a skilled worker.
After numerous attempts to persuade the government that Ms Matthews is entitled to stay, the family have reached an impasse.
Mrs Matthews said she did not anticipate any issues through the adoption process as she expected her two children to be treated as if they were biologically her own.
But she said it seems that the present laws of the Australian government do not permit citizenship by descent of a Canadian-adopted child.
The rigid regulations are designed to stop crimes like child trafficking and the use of potentially forged documents to enter Australia.
Queenslanders John and Jennifer Matthews adopted their two children when they were unable to have children and were living overseas
The Matthews adopted both of their children from birth. Ms Matthews is pictured as a child with her mother Jennifer
However, part of the problem is the fact Ms Matthews was adopted privately, rather than under the Hague Convention or a bilaterial agreement.
The Hague Convention exists to protect children against abduction and child trafficking, and it terms of adoption, would cover agreements between two countries.
The Matthews believe their situation is unfair and are calling for flexibility within the legislation.
Migration lawyer Ben Watt, from Seek Visa, said the family’s situation was unique and there were very few cases where children adopted by Australians would not be able to gain citizenship.
Mr Watt said had Ms Matthews been applied for a visa before she was 18 the situation could have been avoided.
He said the family had made the mistake of presuming their eligibility and the government needs to do more to make expats aware of the laws.