The American Samoa Government will no longer seize Samoan passports when Samoa citizens enter its territory.
This is one of the outcomes of the Two Samoa Talks that concluded in Apia last week.
This has been one of the longstanding complaints by Samoa – the confiscation of its citizens’ passports by the American Samoa Immigration.
This was confirmed during an interview with the American Samoa Attorney General, Talauega Eleasalo Ale.
“The confirmation is indicated in the official meeting record of the Two Samoa Executive Meeting,” he said.
According to the communique, American Samoa notes that foreign passports are no longer seized and this is based on a new immigration policy implemented by the Attorney General’s office which oversees the Immigration Office.
During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Talauega said their government had proposed a “Samoa Pass Programme”.
“We proposed this pass, and submitted it to them and of course they have to review it, and of course they have to determine whether this will work for them.
“We have given them the skeletal proposition of this programme.
“And they have to review and then we will have to agree on it, however in broad terms, it’s a three-day permit which is free.
“This will allow travelers from Samoa to enter American Samoa and vice versa and that is the basic Samoa pass.
“We also proposed a premium pass that will apply to business travelers.
“This is for a whole year and it allows for multiple access to either countries, and we are proposing a fee, because of the duration.
“But we’ll have to discuss it some more with Samoa.”
According to Talauega, this alternative will benefit both countries.
“We had to think outside the box in order to come up with a solution to difficult problems, instead of the entry permits.
“But the exciting thing about this proposal is that it encourages traveling by air.
“Most especially since Samoa is adding its airline fleet, we think this will have a positive side effect on the Samoa pass.
“This will allow for a robust traveling between the two Samoa’s and Samoa Air and Talofa Air will see an increase in their customers,” said the Attorney General.
Talauega also said the Two Samoa Executive Meetings has been a success.
“The biggest accomplishment is that we get to meet and interact with the people here who do the same work we do there (American Samoa) and that really helps.
“It was my first time meeting the Commissioner of Police. There are issues that Samoa has that I can help with and vice versa.
“Discussing the difficult issues like the banning of taro, immigration, tourism, it is always beneficial to face the people who we are dealing with rather than via a phone, or email,” Talauega said.