21 Aug 2006

Nauru plans visa fee for asylum seekers in Australian-run camps

3:25 pm on 21 August 2006

Nauru says it is planning to introduce a visa fee on Australia for all asylum seekers arriving in its detention centres on Nauru.

The minister for foreign affairs, David Adeang, says eight Burmese people, due to arrive on Nauru after having completed medical checks and identity interviews, are expected to be the first to be issued with such a visa.

Visas for asylum seekers have been free of charge, but Mr Adeang says his government wants to put pressure on Australia to speed up the process.

"But we have seen, certainly at the cabinet level, a need to provide some encouragement to Australia to essentially hasten the processing of asylum seekers once they have residency at the offshore processing centre."

Mr Adeang says the Nauru government is expected to issue 90-day visas at a cost of 1,500 US dollars for each visa.

He says if the asylum seekers have not been processed, and neither returned nor resettled within three months, their visa will be renewed at a cost of 380 US dollars for each month.

And if the claims have not been processed within a year, he says, punitive measures will be imposed on the Australian government.