Papua New Guinea business visa changes that may affect you


Papua New Guinea’s Immigration and Citizenship Authority has developed a new online visa system and has changed the rules for business visitors to the country. Here’s why the changes were made and what business travellers to PNG can do to avoid delays.

Welcome sign at Port Moresby (POM) Airport. Credit: BAI

Changes have been made to the business visa rules for Papua New Guinea. These were designed to improve compliance and efficiency.

From now on, all visa applications for Papua New Guinea must now be made online. The Immigration and Citizenship Authority (ICA) has made the business eVisa system available to more than 70 countries.

The ICA has also withdrawn multiple entry business visas, a policy applied after the APEC meetings in Port Moresby in 2018.

According to the ICA, a business visa is valid for a single entry stay of 30 days from the date of arrival.

The changes to business visas may have been a response to people not following the law.

‘Following these changes however, there are now other flow-on effects that need to be addressed through careful planning and industry consultation.’

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Scott Roberts, Vice-President of the Australia-Papua New Guinea Business Council and Director – Client Services and OD Consulting at Rubicor Group, tells Business Advantage PNG there have been reports of people abusing the business visa system to ‘mobilise personnel earlier’ owing to the time it takes to obtain work permit and associated visas.

‘It takes about six weeks to get a work permit and visa, 15 business days in each department and, if there are any issues in terms of correctness or information provided, that time can blow out very quickly.

‘But even though the paperwork is completed correctly that is how long it takes for the vast majority of applications we manage for clients.

‘Quite often, you hear that people are not willing to wait and want someone there now. So, they get a business visa, but they are actually working. Obviously, that is not what the law requires.


Peopleconexxion’s Fraser Hawkins.

Roberts says ensuring compliance can be difficult in Papua New Guinea.

‘The response in the past has been to change the process, which then hits everyone, rather than just targeting those who have breached the law.

‘Hence, some legitimate users of liberal multiple entry business visas could get caught up in controls that are implemented when they have a perfectly good reason to travel.’

Fraser Hawkins, Regional Manager PNG & Asia Pacific for recruitment and HR consultancy Peopleconnexion PNG, believes the ‘landscape has changed’ with regards to visa applications.

He says there is an increasing focus on job titles and trying to discourage abuses of the business visa and Restricted Employment Visa (REV) systems.

‘One option for frequent business travellers to Papua New Guinea is the APEC Business Travel Card.’

‘There has been a crackdown on labour coming through from neighbouring countries and just operating on business visas, that is fair enough. Where a job can be done in-country, it should be.’

‘Following these changes, however, there are now other flow-on effects that need to be addressed through careful planning and industry consultation.

‘For example, you can’t open a bank account in PNG on just a REV or business visa. You can’t be paid in country until a work permit is issued.

‘That’s another hurdle keeping people from being settled as quickly as possible and using their time to train up people in country.’

‘From our experience, the consulates overseas are very helpful to the expats and explain the ramifications of the visa processes to them, but there’s still a long way to go.’

A solution for frequent business travellers

Australia-Papua New Guinea Business Council’s Scott Roberts.

Roberts says that one option for frequent business travellers to Papua New Guinea is the APEC Business Travel Card, which he describes as the ‘smartest and most cost-effective option.’

The card is valid for five years and is good for multiple entries for a stay of up to 60 days and applies to any country that is a member of APEC.

‘It is encouraged for people who have business development meetings or have to go to work, like I do.’

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