THE opening of two Australian visa application centres in Port Moresby and Lae will result in faster processing of applications, Australian High Commissioner Ian Kemish said, The National reports.
He said it demonstrated the Australian government's commitment to high-quality service in the region.
Kemish announced last Thursday that visa lodgement hours would be between 8.30am-4.30pm on weekdays, almost double the existing times.
He said phone lines would be open to handle questions and enquiries from travellers from 8.30am-7pm weekdays.
"We have listened to the feedback from our clients, and I am pleased to announce the establishment of two Australian visa application centres in PNG," he said.
The changes are possible because PNG has been chosen as the first country in the Pacific where Australia will introduce its new service delivery partner (SDP) arrangements.
The use of an SDP in other overseas locations has provided benefits, including improved client services and processing efficiencies.
Other services will include SMS alert service, internet kiosks, photocopying and the issuing of passport photographs.
"As Australia's closest neighbour and the largest Pacific island country, it is only right that it is here that Australia looks to improve our visa processing systems in the Pacific," Kemish said.
"Work on new shop fronts is already under way, with doors expected to open in Port Moresby and Lae between September and October.
"Staff at the new centres will be trained to a professional standard and applicants' personal information will be protected in line with Australia's privacy rules.
"All applications will continue to be assessed and decided by the visa and immigration office at the Australian High Commission in accordance with migration legislation and policy.
"The new arrangements will not affect official visa applications (those accompanied by third person notes from the PNG government). These will continue to be accepted at the high commission," Kemish said.