The delayed in granting entry permits for Samoan nationals to travel to Amerika Samoa has led to complaints registered with the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
It’s an inconvenience that government has been trying for years to resolve with the territorial government as the bottleneck originates from American Samoa and her permit approving procedures.
For instance, American Samoans wanting an entry permit to enter Samoa can apply in person to Samoa’s Consulate Office in Fagatogo and received their permits the same day.
But for local residents, they are required to email a passport copy, a return ticket and contacts of their sponsors in the territory to the American Samoa Immigration Office.
And from there, they wait.
“Government has exhausted avenues to streamline the processing of entry permit request from our side,” explains MPMC’s Chief Executive Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo.
“But while we have streamlined our permit processes, we still have to comply with American Samoa’s procedures.”
As the leading government agency organizing the 2 Samoa talks to take place in Apia next month, Agafili says that the entry permit issue will be one of the issues on the agenda.
It was hoped that American Samoa by now would have also opened its own Consulate Office in Apia.
The 2 Samoas have already agreed to set up their respective offices in Apia and Fagatogo however our neighbors have Samoa not done so.
In other related news, Samoa is raising the permit fees for US nationals from American Samoa entering Samoa.
From 9 October the fee for a permit for up to 14 days will double to $US20.
For urgent issuance the fee will be $US30.
A multiple entry for 12 months will cost $US150.
For people who overstay their permits, a new fee of $200 tala, or $US80, has been added.
Samoa’s consul general in American Samoa Auseugaefa Vaasatia Poloma Komiti told KHJ News that the fees had not been changed for years and the increase reflected higher costs of providing these services.
He said inter Samoa talks have discussed many arrangement to relax inter-island travel between the two countries for several years, but nothing has materialized.