A Taiwanese-born New Zealander has had his passport photo rejected by his own government due to “closed eyes”.

Richard Lee was attempting to renew his passport online to take a trip to Australia but was surprised to receive a rejection message from the New Zealand government’s online passport check saying:

“The photo you want to upload does not meet our criteria because: subject eyes are closed.”

As you can see from the photo Lee submitted he clearly has his eyes open:

Lee contacted the New Zealand government after the mishap who subsequently told him that his photo was rejected because of “uneven lighting on the face”.

Many are calling the New Zealand government’s department of foreign affairs passport system “racist” but Lee saw the funny side. Far from being offended Lee thought it was quite an amusing reaction to his application and posted the rejection on his Facebook account. Lee’s story quickly went viral both in New Zealand and across the globe.

▼ A photo of Lee from his Instagram account

Lee has been quoted as saying:

“The error message didn’t bother me that much, I saw the humor in it and obviously it’s a programming error in the recognition software.”

Lee cleverly posted another picture on his Facebook page that he felt may be more to the liking of the online passport program:

Here are some comments from Lee’s Facebook post:

“Racist much! Lol”

“Haha, I went to school with this dude.”

“Are your eyes even open?”

“Sue for racism.”


Good on Lee for seeing the funny side with this one. What do you think of the photo rejection? Racism or technological mishap?

Source: NextShark, New Zealand Herald
Featured image: Facebook/RichardLeeOfficial