New Zealand immigration racism: Taiwanese-origin man denied passport saying eyes were closed

Richard has submitted his picture to an online passport photo checker by New Zealand department of internal affairs to renew his passport

New Zealand immigration racism: Taiwanese-origin man denied passport saying eyes were closed

A New Zealand man of Asian origin was rejected his passport when the facial recognition software mistakenly acknowledged his eyes were closed.

Richard has submitted his picture to an online passport photo checker by New Zealand department of internal affairs to renew his passport.

The software told Lee that his photo was invalid because his eyes were closed, although they were clearly open according to an image posted in Facebook.


“The photo you want to upload does not meet our criteria because subjects eyes are closed,” the message read.

It has directed the 22 year old engineering student to resubmit the photo.

“No hard feelings on my part, I've always had very small eyes and facial recognition technology is relatively new and unsophisticated,” Mr. Lee told Reuters.

The part-time DJ who was born in Taiwan but brought up in New Zealand, when contacted the Department of Internal Affairs was told that it was "uneven lighting on face."

Eventually, one photo was approved after a few attempts.

“It was a robot, no hard feelings. I got my passport renewed in the end,” added Lee.

According to Reuters nearly 20 per cent of passport size photos submitted online are rejected for various reasons.