5 Jul 2007

Concern voiced over prospect of federalised immigration system in American Samoa

1:50 pm on 5 July 2007

Concern is being voiced that people will face greater difficulties in obtaining visas if American Samoa comes under federal immigration rules.

The governor, Togiola Tulafono, was speaking out as the U.S. Congress is about to consider a bill federalising the immigration system of the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas.

He is concerned it will be expanded to include American Samoa after federal legislation on the minimum wage was recently imposed on the territory.

Togiola says they are being treated like a colony, not a territory.

Our correspondent, Monica Miller, says currently, American Samoa determines who is allowed to enter the territory and issues visas but this will change if the immigration system is federalised.

"We'll have to follow the U.S. system and that's how it is. If you want to go to Hawaii or any other part of the U.S., you'll have to apply for a visa. And, there's difficulty right now in having people apply for visas. If you were in Samoa, you'd have to go to New Zealand to get a visa so those are some of his concerns."

Monica Miller