Alex Lee Barnett was in the middle of a custody battle with her then-husband Harris Todd in the early 1990s when she fled.
A woman who was on the run with her daughter for more than 20 years before being extradited to the US from the Sunshine Coast is appealing to the government to be allowed to return to Australia.
Alex Lee Barnett, then known as Dorothy Barnett, was in the middle of a custody battle with her then-husband Harris Todd in the early 1990s when she fled the US with her daughter Savanna.
Having changed their names to Alex Lee and Samantha, Ms Barnett first headed to Malaysia, then Botswana before arriving in South Africa where she remarried and became Alexandra Geldenhuys.
She later spent some time in New Zealand before settling in Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast where the family lived for years while Mr Todd searched the globe for his ex-wife and daughter.
The FBI finally caught up with Ms Barnett in 2013 and she was deported to the US and jailed for two years.
Now living in Florida, she's desperate to return to Australia to witness the birth of her grandchildren but says the Australian government refuses to give her a visa.
"(Mooloolaba) had that community feel, that's why we decided there," she told 9News.
"I knew eventually I would get caught."
Ms Barnett's daughter, Samantha, remained in Queensland when she was deported but has stood by her, writing to her in prison and even marrying in Fiji just so she could attend.
Immigration lawyer Sharon Harris said Ms Barnett had likely been denied on character grounds.
"This government unfortunately has a very strict take on what they consider to be a character issue," Ms Harris said.
Ms Barnett said she understands some people will see her as a convicted criminal who deprived a father of his relationship with his daughter.
"I can understand that because not everyone knows the story," she said.
"I don't want to get our hopes up as it always tears us apart. It's so devastating.
"I said to her (Samantha) 'honey if they don't let me get back into the country, if I kick the bucket', I said: 'take my ashes and spread it all over Australia for me'."
Immigration minister Allan Tudge did not respond when contacted for comment.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/queensland-mum-who-kidnapped-daughter-from-us-wants-to-return-to-australia/f563e30e-22af-40c4-bb9b-25c0ab03f9a7