Thursday, November 08, 2012

Australia announces new electronic visa for PNG

By Ray Clancy in Australia Immigration

Australia is to introduce a special electronic visa arrangement with Papua New Guinea which will improving the ease of travel between the two countries, particularly for frequent travellers.

"While Australia maintains a universal visa regime through which we manage the entry and stay of all visitors from around the world, I believe there is an important opportunity to consider practical and meaningful ways to further enhance the visa and travel arrangements for visitors from Papua New Guinea within this universal regime," said Immigration and Citizenship minister Chris Bowen.

Papua New Guinea minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato, welcomed the move. 
"The announcement of the introduction of an electronic visa arrangement for Papua New Guinea travellers is timely and addresses our long standing request for more facilitative travel arrangements, including visa on arrival," he said.

Both ministers agreed to the establishment of a joint traveller facilitation taskforce comprising officials from the Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority.

The joint traveller facilitation taskforce is expected to identify legal and administrative requirements that would lead to the introduction of an electronic visa arrangement in the first half of 2013.

"With about 80% of all visa applications from Papua New Guinea falling into the tourism and business activity categories, it is sensible to focus our attention on these travellers," Bowen said.

"This will not only cater for the largest proportion of travellers from Papua New Guinea, but will seek to enhance the significant cultural benefits and business opportunities that these travellers offer to both countries.
"This degree of priority reflects the significance of the unique and special relationship which Australia and Papua New Guinea share."

Pato said Papua New Guinea travellers will welcome this announcement because they will have the privilege of applying for visas using the internet from their work places, homes or through selected travel agents, instead of the long queues experienced in the past.

PNG travellers requiring to travel at short notice will also benefit from shorter processing times that are offered by the electronic visa arrangement.

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