Government streamlines issue of Work & Entry Permits for overseas workers

The respective CEOs of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo and for MCIL, Pulotu Lyndon Chu-Ling.

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 08 APRIL 2019: Work and entry permits for overseas workers are now being issued by the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (MPMC).  Before the change announced last week, the work and entry permits were vetted and issued by the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour (MCIL).

During a joint press conference last week, the Chief Executive Officers of MCIL, Pulotu Lyndon  Chu-Ling and MPMC, Agafili Shem Leo, announced the changes.

“The system in use now to speed up the issuance of work and entry permits has been in the pipeline for sometimes,” said the CEO of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo Agafili.

It is part of Governments ongoing reforms to improve the service it provides for the people, country and partners.

He said both MCIL and MPMC decided to review the process which led to the new system in place now, whereby the issuances of both permits are now channelled and coordinated by the Immigration Division under MPMC.

This will give the applicant one place to go to rather than two separate Ministries.

“This is to ensure that the assessment is done properly in accordance with the requirements of the law and in accordance with the requirements of Government policy,” said Agafili.

“That is the essence of this partnership (MCIL /MPMC) to ensure that the due diligence process is being done properly and the assessment of such applications for work and entry permits are done in a transparent and accountable manner and provided in a timely fashion,” said Agafili.

Pulotu Lydon Chu Ling of MCL said the improved process will benefit stakeholders, and he acknowledged the support and feedback from stakeholders over the years.

“We take into account the feedback as we go through the review which is important to the ongoing internal partnership,” said Pulotu.

The processing of permits will take up to at least 10 days.

Sponsorship For Employees
The criteria for sponsorship is the availability of a job already advertised and the skills needed.

Agafili said the sponsor would also be questioned why they opted for an overseas employee when the skills they sought are available in Samoa.

The sponsor must also prove its clear role and responsibilities and a contract between the two parties.

The sponsor also has the right to terminate the contract should there be a breach.

Cheaper Fees
Changes to the system has resulted in cheaper fees from $1800 talā previously to $1200 talā.

“Rather than paying two separate permits, the applicant only pays for one permit now,” said Agafili.

Concern was raised that more overseas workers may take advantage of the low fees and take over work opportunities for locals.

“That is not determined by cost but the skills and knowledge needed,” said Agafili.