The “unfortunate” increased permit fees targeting only American Samoan born citizens entering Samoa will be addressed at the Two Samoa Talks next month in Apia.
This is according to the American Samoa Attorney General, Talauega Elesalo Ale in response to the Samoa Observer questions following the increase of permit fees for U.S. nationals.
“I am aware that Samoa is raising its fees targeting specifically U.S nationals born in American Samoa only.
“While I see this as unfortunate, I have no say in the matter,” said Talauega.
According to the Press Secretary, from 9 October, 2017 the fee for a permit for up to 14 days will double to $US20; for urgent issuance the fee will be $US30 and for multiple entries for 12 months will cost $US150. For U.S national overstayers there will be a new fee of $200 tala, or $US80, in addition.
The A.S.A.G. reiterated that American Samoa has no control over the increases fees.
“Samoa is an independent sovereign country and she is free to impose whatever fees she wishes to impose on travelers to her shores, even if these fees are specific to those of us born in American Samoa.
“We have no plans to respond in kind by raising our fees against Samoan citizens.” Talauega further stated the fees they have in place do not target just Samoa citizens, they apply to all countries.
“If anything we offer lower fees and special permits to Samoan citizens and try to make it easier for Samoa citizens to enter American Samoa.
“In any event, I am sure this issue will be addressed at the Two Samoa Talks next month,” said Talauega.
All the new fees and costs will go into effect October 9th, 3 days before the Two Samoa Talks.
According to the Press Secretary, the delay 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,” explained M.P.M.C.’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 Two 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.