Immigration Office Opens Early To Address Passport and Work Permit Backlogs

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Immigration office hours have been adjusted, with the offices opening as early as 6am, and plans to open Saturdays as well to accommodate applicants as part of measures to address passport issuance and work permit processing challenges.

The change comes as the Department records a surge in passport applications since 2021, ranging between 4,000 and 6,000 per month, largely on the back of significant movement of people seeking job opportunities abroad and increased travel demand, Minister for Home Affairs and Immigration Pio Tikoduadua informed Parliament via a ministerial statement today.

He also put it down to the delay to the relocation of the department’s office.

Despite these difficulties, most passport applicants receive their passports within five to seven working days, with urgent applications processed within two to three days.

Recognising the need for skilled labor, the ministry, he says is also taking immediate steps to expedite work permit processing. The demand for expatriate labor in Fiji has led to a backlog of work permit applications, with 500 to 800 applications received monthly, and the backlog, currently at 2-4 months processing time. To address this, immediate steps will be taken effective from May 1, 2024, including issuing a policy direction pursuant to the Immigration Act 2003.

Delegated powers have been granted to the Director of Immigration, streamlining the approval process.

The ministry also plans to compile a Qualified Employer List comprising employers with a good track record of compliance with permit conditions, facilitating priority processing for their applications. Further streamlining measures, include simplifying permit forms and requirements for future applications, expected to be implemented by the end of June.

In addition, the 2024-25 Budget will allocate funds for more processing staff at the Department of Immigration. The Government of Australia is supporting the Department with training and a document management system.

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