PNG visa problem should improve: High Commission

Acting Papua New Guinea (PNG) High Commissioner in Solomon Islands Tommy Angau says the visa problem faced by Solomon Islands students studying in Papua New Guinea should now be improved and rectified since an education attaché has been appointed.

Most SI students studying at University of Papua New Guinea, the University of Goroka and Divine Word University in Madang deferred their studies last year because they arrived late for the start of the academic year due to visa delays.

This came about after the visa processing was shifted from Honiara to Port Moresby Immigration Department following a row between PNG and Australia early last year.

This has put constraints on the National Training Unit in Honiara because it has to send the visa applications to Port Moresby for processing.

Furthermore, the various Universities in PNG have to send support letters to PNG Immigration to confirm the start of academic year and number of SI students, before it can process all the visas.

As such if all these requirements are delayed, then the visa processing will take time to complete.

Speaking to PNG LOOP, Angau said the delay in visa for students intended for PNG institutions should not affect their study opportunity, as an education attaché was appointed.

He said the education attach has been liaising well with the Solomon High Commission in Moresby and the PNG Immigration, hence any matter pertaining to visa delay should be improved by now.

Last year nine Solomon Islands students flew over to PNG for study were return back at Jackson International in Port Moresby to Honiara, because their visa application were delayed, thus not permitted to enter the country.

This incident has stirred frustration among the students and their parents, as well as the Solomon Island Government (SIG) that sponsored the students.

However, Mr Angau said the problem will no longer be repeated because the education attaché Claire Damutalau is responsible to deal with this issue.

Elliot Dawea