Visiting Papua New Guinea regularly for business just got easier and cheaper 


Changes to the way visas and work permits are managed by Papua New Guinea’s Immigration and Citizenship Authority, including the reintroduction of a multiple entry visa for business visitors, are expected to accelerate processing times and reduce costs associated with travelling to PNG.

Credit: BAI/Stefan Daniljchenko

Frequent business travellers to PNG can expect the return of cheaper and more stream-lined entry in and out of the country following the reintroduction by PNG’s Immigration and Citizenship Authority (ICA) of the Multiple Entry Short Term Business Visa (MESTBV) for foreign business visitors.

As an alternative to the existing 30-day Single Entry Business Visa, which has to be issued each time a foreign business person visits PNG, the MESTBV allows for stays of up to 60 days per visit over a 12-month period.

‘Reactivating the multiple entry component of the Short-Term Business Visa supports trade and investment in Papua New Guinea, while helping to restore international travel arrangements to pre-pandemic settings’

At its current cost of US$350, the MESTBV could potentially save a monthly business visitor to PNG over US$3,000 in visa processing costs annually.

‘Reactivating the multiple entry component of the Short-Term Business Visa supports trade and investment in Papua New Guinea, while helping to restore international travel arrangements to pre-pandemic settings,’ said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Labour and Immigration, John Rosso in announcing the move.

Welcome return

The MESTBV was removed in 2018 due to multiple cases of foreign employees abusing work-restricted visas.

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‘The visa will be welcomed by businesses that have partnerships and need to visit regularly. Reducing the cost of doing business and streamlining market access will be a game changer,’ Austrade’s Senior Trade Commissioner to PNG and the Solomon Islands, Adrian Weeks, tells Business Advantage PNG.

The visa has also been welcomed locally.

‘The Chamber welcomes all initiatives to improve ease-of-entry for genuine international business visitors, especially at a time when PNG is ramping up for the start of some major resources and infrastructure projects,’ Rio Fiocco, President of the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry, tells Business Advantage PNG. ‘We look forward to further streamlining of the application processes for both visas and work permits.’

Unlimited entry & longer stays

While the MESTBV has been re-activated, more reforms are indeed expected, with Minister Rosso flagging a review of several visa categories, which could eventually result in eligible business travellers receiving unlimited entry into PNG.

Last month, Chief Migration Officer Stanis Hulahau told a business forum in Port Moresby that the ICA is planning to launch a new Business Investor Visa as early as the first quarter of 2024, which may provide a pathway to residency status for those investing capital in PNG.

Meanwhile, a ‘one-shop-stop’ to manage online applications for both visas and work permits is a work-in-progress, which Hulahau said should be ready in the last quarter of this year.

Faster processing?

PNG, along with neighbouring Australia, agreed during a bilateral Ministerial Forum last January to slash the processing times for visa applications in both countries.

Last month, Hulahau confirmed that PNG’s average processing time for visas is now less than 10 days, well within its 14-day target.

However, he conceded that the development of the ‘one-stop-shop’, along with government-imposed staffing caps, had temporarily slowed down the screening of work permit applications.

Meanwhile, Australia is also making good on its commitment to improve processing times for PNG visitors to Australia.

According to Elizabeth Carter, Counsellor at the Australian Department of Home Affairs, processing times for visitor visas into Australia from PNG, including business visitors, have improved from 22 days to 12 days since November 2022.

Her department is on track to process around 15,000 visa applications from PNG this year, up from 10,000 in 2018/19, according to Carter. It is also creating a local visa liaison, engagement and processing office in Port Moresby to ensure progress continues.

Eligibility for an MESTBV

To qualify for a Multiple Entry Short Term Business Visa (MESTBV) to PNG, applicants must:

  • Be full-time employees of the company they’re representing
  • Have sufficient funds to support themselves
  • Provide evidence they intend to return home after their stay
  • Be of good character (a police clearance may be requested)
  • Be in good health
  • Have a valid invitation letter from a PNG-based sponsor
  • Hold a passport valid for more than six months

While health requirements are currently under review, a supplementary Health Form and COVID-19 Vaccination certificate may be requested as part of the application.

Passport holders from eligible APEC member economies are being encouraged to apply for the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC), which could potentially allow for unlimited entry for stays up to 60 or 90 days per visit.

‘Holders of the ABTC, either physical or virtual cards, can enjoy fast-track immigration processing on entry and departure at Jacksons International Airport,’ says ICA’s Quinton Alomp.

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