New rule for American Samoa travel angers passengers
New Zealand and Australia passport holders will now require an “OK to board” approval from American Samoa before they fly there.
The revision by the American Samoa Government on entry permit waiver for certain countries are in line with the United States current list of Visa Waiver Countries.
The notice obtained by the Sunday Samoan was sent to the Airlines on Friday, effective immediately.
Many passengers were caught off guard yesterday and they demanded refunds for the airfares from the airlines.
The notice has a list of 38 countries including New Zealand and Australia.
Before these countries listed below did not require an OK board to enter the U.S. territory.
One Airline Official told the Samoa Observer they were not given ample time to make the necessary adjustments.
“We only received the attached yesterday afternoon (Friday) from our American Samoa office which is from the Office of the Attorney General in American Samoa."
“We found it ridiculous that they make it effective immediately and yet no one who already booked to travel to American Samoa this weekend is aware of it."
“Our first passenger who came at 6.30 am this morning (yesterday) to check in when told about it immediately wanted a refund for his ticket."
“If you look at the list of countries affected, many Samoans with overseas passports will be affected. It is certainly a good way to discourage people travelling to American Samoa and help its economy develop in the opposite direction,” said the Airline official.
According to the notice, citizens of countries listed below are not required to secure an entry permit before entering American Samoa.
“However, they must contact the Attorney General’s office to secure an OK board."
“The OK board will be issued upon proof of a valid machine readable passport the expiration date of which must be more than six months, from the departure date from American Samoa,” says the notice.
Also required is a round trip or onward ticket leaving American Samoa within 30 or less of arrival and payment of a $20 fee, which payment may be made upon arrival.
Furthermore the notice indicates that “a 30 permit will be issued to these travelers upon arrival provided the above requirements are met."
“Immigration officers may refuse entry to any traveler whose entries violate American Samoa law, or who poses a threat to the welfare, health, safety or security of American Samoa.”
According to the notice, the list waiver countries is based on the United States current list of Visa Waiver Countries which includes England, Northern Ireland Scotland and Wales. Other Countries under the waiver are Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and United Kingdom2
The revision does not affect the travelers entering the U.S. territory to board fishing or commercial vessels. They “are not eligible for this program. These travelers must secure an entry permit in order to enter,” says the notice.
American Samoa Immigration laws has it that Samoa passport holders requires a 30 day permit to enter the territory.
Samoa Observer reached out American Samoa’s Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale for an explanation on the matter however he’s yet to respond.