No cash payment for business visa at airport : Vanuatu Immigration Minister

Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat

PORT VILA, 04 SEPTEMBER 2018 (VANUATU DAILY POST) – Minister responsible for Immigration matters, Andrew Napuat, is introducing new measures to the Vanuatu Immigration Services (VIS), after it was discovered that VIS staff have been collecting money for business visas without issuing official receipts for years.

Immigration Officers are no longer permitted to collect Vt20,000(US$176) from any potential business investor arriving in Vanuatu as of Monday September 03, 2018.

The Immigration Officers will only collect passports.

The potential business investors will collect their passports from the Immigration Office at Tamarama, where they will be issued with official receipts after paying the required Vt20,000 (US$176) fee.

Addressing the press Monday, Minister Napuat vowed to put an end to such a practice by the Immigration staff and to return public trust to the Government Agency that will satisfy the stakeholders, return the trust, and uphold the good image of the VIS.

He wants the stakeholders to be aware of the changes that the VIS management team together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs are committed to.

There are also changes to overstayer fees. The previous practice has been that overstayers who depart Vanuatu are made to pay a fee of Vt6,000 (US$52) to the Immigration Officers on departure at the airport.

From now on, overstayers will receive a NO FURTHER ENTRY stamp in their passport upon departure. If they want to return to Vanuatu, they must pay Vt6,000 before entry with a penalty fee of Vt250,000 (US$2,200) in order to be permitted to re-enter Vanuatu.

The Ministry recognises the importance of tourism in the country and therefore informs the tourism sector that from now on, tourists from countries are exempted from visa requirement.

The Department of Immigration (DOI) will issue a visitor visa for up to 30 days. Even if the visitor indicated on arrival that they will stay in Vanuatu for less than 30 days, the Immigration Department, under the new policy direction, will grant them 30-day visa on arrival.

This is to help the tourists travel widely within Vanuatu as they wish, and at the same time allow them ample time to return to point of departure before leaving the country and time for delay in departures.

The new management of the Immigration Services and the Ministry of Internal Affairs also realized that the Immigration Services, has in the past, used different stamps for the services it has been providing without proper control.

The current stamps only have logos and initials such as “OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF IMMIGRATION AND PASSPORT SERVICES”.

As of September 15, 2018, this is all going to end. Each staff of the Immigration Department will have his own stamp with a unique number on that stamp which allocated to be used only by that staff. This will eliminate the misuse of stamps. Misuse of the stamp and the services will then be easily traced and the responsible officer disciplined.

There is now a huge increase of the requests for the issuance of Special Category Visa (SCV) from Non-Governmental Organisations and Government Agencies. The Management team has put in place a new process to provide a good assessment for the SCV.

Any Government request for SCV must first go through one of the Commissions including the Public Service, the Police Service, the Teaching Service, Judicial Service or one of the Commissions.

People who come to Vanuatu to be engaged on major Government projects must first apply through the Vanuatu Project Management Unit (VPMU) and the diplomatic and the regional and international agencies submissions must first go through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The original police clearance is a must before obtaining a special visa under the SCV.

The Application for SCV must be approved prior to travelling into the country. A person cannot enter the country as a visitor then wait for the approval for special visitor visa.

On arrival, the applicant must provide a letter of approval for SCV to the border officer to be allowed through the border. If a person arrives on a visitor visa and requesting a special visa under that category, he or she will be asked to leave the country or pay a fee of Vt100,000(US$879) for change of status.

The approval of special category will require one- week period to be processed. As such the Department of Immigration expects all submissions to be completed and submitted one week in advance before arrival.

As of the 30th of August 2018, the DOI no longer approves submissions to person submitting their requests and expecting to arrive the next day, Minister Napuat stressed.

He said the DOI will not accept incomplete applications. Requests for SCA must not exceed five years.

More emphasis on disseminating Immigration-related Information

Minister Napuat said the DOI management team and the Ministry have realised the importance of making immigration information made available to the public at large and is therefore in the process of recruiting an IT whose job will be to update and disseminate all immigration information.

The IT position will be advertised in order to recruit the right qualified person for the position.

The Ministry realises the importance of the border control management system and therefore working closely with partners in order to realise this.

As the Minister responsible for immigration matters, Minister Napuat says he wishes to assure the stakeholders of the importance of the services provided under this government institution and the changes made for the improvement of the service delivery of the institution.

More Stories