The National, Thursday July 4th, 2013
By Shirlyn Belden
AUSTRALIA has improved its travel arrangements on visa access for Papua New Guineans by developing mechanisms that will complement the growing number of applicants every year, Australian High Commissioner to PNG Deborah Sytokes says.
Stokes said Australia had seen a 20% increase of visitors from PNG in the past 12 months and intended to support that by establishing an online visa application, flexible documentation requirements, free visa transit for PNG passport holders for less than eight hours and now allow for 10 days advertised time for visas.
“We have seen a threefold increase in the number of students into Australia,” she said.
“Australia and PNG have a strong relationship and better than before there are more opportunities for PNG citizens to travel to Australia through these improvements,” she said yesterday at a visa forum in Port Moresby.
A senior official from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship Jim Williams said these changes had improved the means for PNG travellers where the problems of long cues for visa applications, visa processing for one or more people or the hassle of travelling to Port Moresby to lodge applications.
He said delays on visa applications were because of clients lodging incomplete applications or where medical examinations were required.
Stokes said PNG travellers must be wary of time so that applications like medical examinations that could require a week or two could be done on time for complete visa processing.
She said PNG had been struck by the Australian visa issue lately and these improvements intend to ease that.