A BACKLOG of applications, staff shortage and a permanent residency application policy review are causing lengthy delays in the timely processing of permanent residency applications.
Apart from the other reasons, the policy review has prompted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to place a temporary hold on new permanent residency (PR) applications.
“Currently, there is a review under way on the PR policy and that is the reason for the directive to hold on new applications,” a senior officer with the department revealed last Friday.
“Manpower shortage is also a disabling factor here as well, but we are working around that to provide migration services to the public,” he added.
He revealed this after concerns were raised by an immigration agency that the department had not justified the delays in processing PR applications.
The agency claimed the department was “not working hard enough” to process permanent residency applications resulting in a huge backlog, dating back to 2007.
The agent’s concerns stem from the claim that migration agents have been “kept waiting in the dark” for permanent residency applications they registered in 2007.
The agent claimed that despite numerous attempts to find out the status of the applications, they had reached a dead-end.
However, the source with the department said this was not the case and urged for understanding to prevail.
The source explained that so far, date there were 25 pending applications from 2007 lodged under the majority business owner category, and 20 applications from last year in the same category.
The source also explained that processing PR applications “is lengthy because external agents are also involved in the PR committee and their collaborated sitting was affected by their various schedules”.
Under the current arrangements, non-citizen residents who have lived in PNG for five years or more are eligible to apply for permanent residence, so long as they are of good character.
Those who hold a PR residence entry permit do not need work permits that were issued by the Department of Labour.
Permanent residence, once granted, was valid for the life of the holder.
The introduction of the permanent residence was said to have put “PNG on par with other leading economies in the Asia Pacific Region”.
This was because it recognised the significant contribution that many long-term residents have made to economic and social developments.