Recent changes to the passenger system at Australian airports have resulted in dual nationality visa holders experiencing issues when seeking to switch between passports to travel in and out of Australia.
The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that the passenger system can only link a permanent or temporary visa to the first nationality that is entered into their system (ie the passport that is entered as the primary passport for travel at the time of applying for the visa).
While the Department itself can record a secondary passport for visa holders (and it is mandatory to update the Department once a new citizenship or passport has been acquired), the passenger system at the airport cannot do the same.
On a practical level, this means that if a TSS visa holder whose visa is linked to a passport of one country, subsequently acquires another citizenship and wishes to travel on a passport issued by this second country, then the visa holder is likely to encounter delay on entry to Australia. This situation typically arises when the second passport is a more “desirable” one for travel.
Currently, the only way to ensure smooth travel at the airport is to apply for a new visa linking it to the passport of choice for travel. This is obviously a very time-consuming and expensive exercise, with a second set of Government and legal fees required to enter a different nationality and new passport details.
Given the increasing eligibility of many citizens for a second or more citizenships, and given the natural preference of visa holders to travel on the passport that will afford the most streamlined and stress-free entry at airports, this is becoming an issue.
Ajuria Lawyers understands that the Department is looking into how the passenger system can be rectified, and we will keep you informed.
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