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29 August 2013

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Still having trouble helping PNG family get tourist visas to come to Australia. It seems the bank statements we supplied were no good as they only covered the time to the end of June this year.

So we supplied more, but these are not acceptable as we don't have sufficient funds in the closing balance to prove we can support them while in Australia to the requirements of Australian Immigration.

So now you have to be 'elite' (proof of identity, character references, return tickets, money in the bank etc.) and have wealthy sponsors in Australia - to a standard not disclosed.

I'm not saying it's necessarily racist or discriminatory - just bloody impossible!

I have recently tried to obtain a visa for my wife online. I am an Australian married to a Bougainvillean.

As she has a new passport, she is not eligible to obtain a visa online even though she had a visa in her old passport. So we have to go through the whole process of getting all the documents to Pt Moresby all over again.

The majority of Papua New Guineans do not have a credit card so how are they expected to pay for the visa on line?

The only other visa more difficult to obtain for a PNG citizen is for travel to the USA. That is an interesting experience.

My comments are the same as Simon Merton's. I travelled to POM recently and since my flights were all connected, didn't need a visa on the inward journey.

The return trip had an overnight in Brisbane so as soon as I was in POM I went to apply for a transit visa. The papers (about 4 pages) were filled out manually and submitted.

Now just to get a response of when it would be ready took almost 4 hours of waiting in the office. An efficient service would have us informed the minute we submitted, so we could go get something to eat then check later (all while fighting jet lag).

Anyhow, the response was online through email one week later. I'm not sure if this response time of one week is good enough or could have been less with all the improvements we're hearing about.

It took me six months to get a training visa because the AHC and training institution down under couldn't accept any university or college certification paper signed or sighted by a PNG commissioner of oath.

They asked for an AHC commissioner or delegate official to sight and stamp it and that cost K25 per stamped paper and when you need to send multiple copies for that matter then the cost easily climbs into several hundreds of kina.

[Twitter] I often ponder why, as a US citizen, I can get an Aussie visa online in 15 minutes. Blessed to be born American?!

Thanks Simon, that's the sort of practical feedback we are seeking.

Please don't lump us all in the same basket however. Many of us are on your side.

Are there any more people who have tried the 'new' system and found out what it was like to use?

What has to now happen is that the real picture (i.e. not spin), has to be transmitted to the next Australian minister, er, whoever she may be....

Online visas? Improved service?

Australia has praised itself for initiatives to address our issues with visas into Australia.

They opened two new Australian Visa Application Centres (AVACs) in Port Moresby and Lae (then they closed the Lae one), promoted by the Australian High Commission as a positive step in addressing our concerns.

These application centres are third-party contractors who simply accept applications and then pass them over to the AHC for processing.

All they have really achieved by introducing these centres is placing yet another barrier between the applicant and the Migration Office which is now closed to the general public.

And to further rub salt into the wound, on top of the existing non-refundable application fee, people will now have to pay an additional K49 to fund these centres.

Even free visas such as transit and medical visas now have a charge of K49.

Why is this? Because the AVAC is operated by a private contractor, TT Services, which belongs to an Indian company that specialises in, among other things, “out sourcing solutions” such as call centres.

But wait, now we have online visa applications available to Papua New Guineans!

Hang on, do not confuse this with e-visas that are available to other foreigners and processed instantly online, they are not.

The online application is simply an extension of what is done at the AVAC, again you submit all the volumes of required information online as you would when you go to the AVAC and, if your privileged, to have a Visa card you pay for your application.

But your application is not processed online as the word online implies, it is simply printed out and passed on to one of those same incompetent migration officers working at the Australian High Commission visa office. That's right, its not even processed in Australia!

So whilst Australia praises itself with all of these positive changes with visas for Papua New Guineans, the fact is nothing has really changed.

It's the same old people making the same old mistakes and biases in their assessment. All that's changed is that there is no longer a long line in the hot sun at the Aussie High Commission.

That line has now been shifted to the AVAC and online, where it is out of sight, therefore out of mind.

Come on Australia It takes more than cloaks and smoke to fool us....

Paul - Still going through the process of getting visas for PNG relos to come here for a tourist visit.

The application process might be online now, but the documentation required is still as onerous as ever.

You still need a sponsor (plus proof of identity, proof of independent financial status, police clearance etc).

Bloody ridiculous.

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