18 Feb 2006

US asked to make it easier to Samoans to get visas

11:18 am on 18 February 2006

American Samoa's Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin has asked for the help of the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to make it easier for Samoan citizens to obtain visas into the United States.

At present Samoan passport holders have to appear in person at the US consulate in Auckland in New Zealand for interviews and biometrics screening.

The congressman told Secretary Rice that this placed a hardship on applicants who had to pay US$1500 for the trip to New Zealand.

He asked Dr Rice if the US embassy in Apia, which is fully equipped to secure the required documentation for visa applications, could be used instead.

The congressman made the request on behalf of 20,000 American Samoan constituents who are married to citizens of Samoa.

Faleomavaega personally made the request when Secretary Rice appeared yesterday before the International Relations Committee, to which the congressman belongs.