The Council of Ministers has approved new categories of visas and visa requirements to help address issues of people breaching their visa conditions, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat, has announced.
“In the past, we have been issuing only certain categories of visas and we have not expanded these, resulting in the confusion that we have been experiencing, with people breaching their visa conditions.
“But now, i am glad to say that last week, the Council of Ministers approved new categories and requirements, which through a regulation, as Minister i will work on them and with consequential amendments made on the Immigration Act to address the issues with visas.”
Currently, there are eight different visas that can be issued under this Short-Term Visa Class. These are: Visitor Visa, Extended Visa, Business Single Entry, Business Multiple, Short Term Employment, Multipurpose Visa, Provisional Investor, and Bridging Visa.
The second is: Medium to Long Term Visa Class under which are the: Diplomatic Visa, Special Category Visa, Student Visa, Religious Workers Visa, Development Support Visa, Business Investor Visa, Direct Investor, Employment Visa, Close Family Reunion, Retiree and Lease Hold Owner.
Tier Three is Permanent Resident Visa Class covering: Close Family, Investor, ni-Vanuatu descent, and Resident Re-entry, the Minister explained.
“So, with these different classes of visa, we have broken these up into different categories that can accommodate and address much of the issues we are facing today with visas,” he said.
“We are hopeful that with the regulation this will facilitate the new visa categories and their requirements and help reduce the issues with illegal immigrants and those breaching their visa conditions in the country.”
This is one of the steps we are taking to address some of the issues identified during Operation Gateway, the Minister said.
The minister’s announcement comes as part of his latest update on the Operation Gateway to clean up mounting issues with visitors breaching their visa conditions in which his officers have collected over Vt10 million in fees from those people affected.
Under this operation, those people living illegally due to visa and permit issues, have been given 30 days to come forward and sort their visa and permit situations after which the Minister’s team can know how much money exactly was collected.
“So, what does this collection of funds tell us? It says there are people living illegally, there are people who are breaching their visa conditions, there are people without valid work permits but are working,” he said adding: “I know citizens of the country will be asking ‘why can’t you just deport them?’
“Now that we are carrying out this operation, we are identifying somethings that government must do. One is we need to carry out a lot of amendments to our existing laws – on labor and immigration,” Mr. Napuat added.
“I wish to say that we have started this task by getting ideas in the form of council papers through to the Council of Ministers to approve for us to do make these amendments in the upcoming session of Parliament. This will address a lot of the issues that we are facing.”