Australian travelers banned from obtaining visas on arrival
20 Feb 14
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
IMPACT – HIGH
What is the change? Papua New Guinea will ban Australian nationals from using its visa on arrival facility as of March 1.
What does the change mean? Australian passport holders will not be granted visitor or business visas on arrival, nor will they be issued “uplift letters” to support such visas on arrival at any port. Australians arriving without a visa will be sent home on the next available flight.
- Implementation timeframe: March 1.
- Visas/permits affected: Visitor visas (all classes), business visas (short-term single entry and restricted employment facility).
- Who is affected: Australian citizens holding an ordinary, official, diplomatic or other travel document for international travel.
- Impact on processing times: Travelers who must now go through normal visa channels will experience longer processing times.
- Business impact: Businesses will have to factor in the extra time and delay of applying for visas for short-term business trips.
- Next steps: Australian travelers should apply for a visitor or business visa as soon as possible, as the change in rules is likely to cause a flood of applications.
Background: The ban is the latest development in an ongoing row over reciprocal access to visas on arrival. Currently, Australian business and tourist travelers are visa-exempt for stays up to 60 days in Papua New Guinea. Last year, Papua New Guinea requested reciprocal treatment for its visitors to Australia. Australia denied the request.
In December, the Papua New Guinea government decided to revoke visa-exempt status to Australian business travelers. It did not enforce its decision immediately, both so that Australians with confirmed travel plans could visit without a visa, and in the hopes that the Australian government would reconsider its decision not to allow visas on arrival for Papua New Guineans.
On March 1, Papua New Guinea will begin to enforce its decision. Last month, PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato had promised that only business travelers would be affected and that Australian tourists would still be able to travel visa-free. But the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority has announced that Australian tourists must obtain visitor visas overseas beginning March 1. Only Australian travelers who are in transit for less than eight hours or visiting by cruise are exempt from the rule change. International airlines have been warned not to board Australians without a visa, and told that they will be responsible for the cost of repatriation for Australians turned away at the airport.
BAL Analysis: The withdrawal of visas on arrival is likely to cause significant delays for Australian tourists and business travelers on short trips.
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