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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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PNG To Benefit From Australian Visa Applications
Australia to launch online application services for PNG

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 8, 2012) – Australia and Papua New Guinea will seek to further strengthen their close relationship with the introduction of a special electronic visa arrangement.

PNG travelers into Australia can now have the privilege of applying for visas using the internet from their work places, homes or through selected agents instead of the long queues experienced in the past.

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

Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen and PNG Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbink Pato announced in a joint statement yesterday.

"Improving the ease of travel between Papua New Guinea and Australia, particularly for frequent travelers, is an important economic and cultural goal," Mr. Bowen said.

"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."

"This announcement follows my recent meeting with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and ongoing discussions with Minister Pato," Mr. Bowen said.

Minister Pato said the announcement by Minister Bowen of the introduction of an electronic visa arrangement for PNG travelers is timely and addresses PNG’s long-standing request for more facilitative travel arrangements including visa on arrival.

Both Ministers agreed to the establishment of a joint traveler facilitation taskforce comprising officials from the Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority.

The joint traveler 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 percent 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 travelers," Mr. Bowen said

"This will not only cater for the largest portion of travelers from Papua New Guinea, but will seek to enhance the significant cultural benefits and business opportunities that these travelers offer to both countries."

"This degree of priority reflects the significance of the unique and special relationship which Australia and Papua New Guinea share," Mr. Bowen said.

PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
Copyright 2012 PNG Post-Courier. All Rights Reserved.


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