Sen. Magalei calls for gov’t to lower its $40 entry permit fee
Senator Magalei Logovi’i has called on the local government to revisit its $40 entry permit fee which he says is too high as compared to the only $10 permit fee for American Samoan nationals entering Samoa.
Magalei made the request during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last Wednesday, on an administration bill seeking to increase from 50 to 100 the number of foreigners to be granted annually permanent residents status — people who have been residents continuously in the territory for 20 years.
The Senate last week Thursday approved the bill in a 12-0 vote and the bill is now with the House where an identical version is pending in committee.
Prior to the Senate vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chair by Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono held two hearings — the first held two weeks ago where Deputy Attorney General, Mitzie Jessop-Ta’ase testified and the second held last Thursday, with Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo testifying that about 690 applicants are on the waiting list for permanent residents and many of them qualify for it.
He explained that every year, between 75 to just over 100 applicants are submitted for permanent residents, and that’s a high number compared to the current quota of 50, that was set by law many years ago.
A handful of senators had suggested hiking the quota from 50 to150 or more to make it easy for the government to move forward the many applicants who seek permanent resident status.
However, Talauega explained the average number of applications every year is about 100, and the reason for the 100 cited in the bill. He also pointed out that American Samoa is a small territory with limited resources. He asked the Senate to accept the 100 as recommended in the bill and senators agreed.
Magalei, during the hearing, raised the $40 for the entry permit for someone to enter American Samoa for 30-days adding that American Samoa nationals entering Samoa pay only $10.
He asked if this is a law or an administrative policy and Talauega responded that under the immigration status, regulations could be approved following required public hearings. And the $40 fee permit is one of those regulations.
Magalei pointed out that it is only $10 for an American Samoan to enter Samoa, while the American Samoa’s permit fee is $40 and it’s quite high.
The senator said he was surprised to learn of the $40 when he went to get a permit last week for a relative from Samoa. He says if there are three people coming from Samoa that’s $120 total that is a lot of money, if a cannery worker pays the permit fee. “That $120 total is the whole week’s pay check for a cannery worker,” he said.
Magalei says while he and his fellow senators can afford the $40, but in the end it’s the low-income earners who will be affected by the high costs of the permit. He suggested lowering this fee to a more affordable amount for low-income earners who have to pay for the high fee for relatives from Samoa to come there.
There was no response from Talauega on Magalei’s suggestion.
Samoa’s locally based Counsel General, Auseugaefa Va’asatia Poloma Komiti told Samoa News early this month that entry fees for US Nationals from American Samoa entering Samoa that the fee for a stay of up to 14 days is $10; up to 30-days is $30; and up to six months is $50. These fees are based on a 24-hour request; however, if the travelers need it the same day as requested than there is an additional $10 fee