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Good-bye TALOFAPass; Hello Immigration hurdles for entry

Attorney General Fainu’ulelei Falefatu Ala’ilima-Utu

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Attorney General Fainu’ulelei Falefatu Ala’ilima-Utu has reminded airlines and passenger vessels serving Pago Pago of their responsibility for checking and ensuring that all travelers entering the territory comply with local immigration requirements before boarding any air or ocean carrier destined for American Samoa.

The reminder, through a Nov. 11 letter, followed a virtual meeting between parties held earlier this month, as the government prepared to eliminate registration on TALOFAPass for pre-approval for travelers entering the territory.

Samoa News notes that immigration entry requirements were temporarily suspended during the Lolo Administration in 2020 after the global outbreak of COVID-19 with American Samoa’s borders closed and travelers entering the territory needing prior approval from designated ASG officials.

And the policy was continued by the Lemanu Administration, with travelers entering the territory required to register on the ASG safe travel online portal, TALOFAPass to obtain pre-approval from the Health Department and the Department of Legal Affairs.

But as of Nov. 15, registration on TALOFAPass for pre-approval was eliminated under the Governor’s new COVID-19 Declaration. (See yesterday’s Samoa News edition for details of the new declaration.)

In his letter, Fainu’ulelei points out that effective Nov. 15, “carriers are responsible for checking and ensuring that all travelers entering American Samoa” satisfy immigration requirements before they board any air or ocean carrier destined for the territory.

Requirements for a U.S. national or citizen include: a valid passport, travel document or a certified birth certificate with ID and in his/ her possession of either:

•           a roundtrip ticket to point of origin or an onward passage to an authorized destination, OR

•           proof of employment, assignment to, residency or family ties in American Samoa, which means no roundtrip ticket is needed.

Regarding military personnel and dependents: valid military identification cards, official military orders or leave authorization form from their respective branch of the U.S military.

For a foreign national who is a citizen of a country in the American Samoa Entry Permit Waiver Program (EPWP): a valid passport and roundtrip ticket and OK Board applied for and paid online or during Department of Legal Affairs (DLA) Travel Division office hours.

Regarding the foreign national who is a citizen of a country NOT in the EPWP: valid passport or Samoa Document of Identity (which, Samoa News notes, is similar to American Samoa’s Certificate of Identity) and valid American Samoa Immigration ID card.

If such a foreign national does not have an American Samoa Immigration ID card, in addition to foreign national's roundtrip ticket, the foreign national must also have an entry permit issued by the American Samoa Government applied for by a local sponsor five business days before the trip and paid during Immigration Office hours.

As previously reported by Samoa News, the EPWP — established in 2017 during the Lolo Administration — permits citizens of specific countries to visit American Samoa without needing an entry-permit or visa for a period of 30 days or less.

Information is available on regarding OK Boards and Entry Permits as well as the list of EPWP countries.

Fainu’ulelei also stated in the letter that effective Nov. 15, American Samoa no longer requires passengers on air and ocean carriers to register with TALOFAPass prior to their travel and as a requirement of entry into American Samoa.

“Instead, travelers now have the recommended option to complete online a health declaration [form] prior to traveling to American Samoa or spend time completing a health declaration upon arrival at the airport or seaport in American Samoa,” he concluded.

The AG’s letter is addressed to Hawaiian Airlines’ local station manager, Tuli Fruean; Samoa Airways CEO Fauo’o Fatu Tielu; Talofa Airways CEO Jeffrey Hunter; Samoa Shipping Corporation CEO Leiataua Sam Phineas; Prichard Airport Services manager Jason Pritchard and Afio Mai Aviation manager Arthur Helsham.

And its copied to Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Ale — who is also chairman of the COVID-19 Task Force —  as well as the chief immigration officer and others in the Legal Affairs involved in this matter.