Department confronts increase in passport applications

April 18, 2024 12:33 pm

The Immigration Department is handling a substantial rise in passport applications ranging between 4,000 and 6,000 each month.

Home Affairs Minister Pio Tikoduadua highlighted this in his ministerial statement in Parliament this morning and also highlighted reports revealing extensive queues with applicants lining up as early as 4am.

In response, he says offices are opening earlier, starting the registration process as early as 6am and even considering Saturday morning operations to meet the demand.

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However, Tikoduadua states that challenges persist particularly with passport applications processed through overseas missions where system issues have caused delays for approximately 250 applications.

He says efforts are underway to address these issues promptly.

“We have identified the problems we are facing and the resources we need. We have had the support of both the Ministry of Finance which has given us more money for staff and overseas donors who are helping us with process improvements.”

Despite these difficulties, Tikoduadua says the Department is committed to delivering passports efficiently with most applicants receiving them within five to seven working days.

Urgent applications are prioritized often and processed within two to three days, highlighting the dedication to swift service.

Tikoduadua points out the surge of Fijians seeking opportunities overseas leading to a substantial rise in demand for expatriate labour across various industries.

He says this migration trend, driven by job opportunities in countries like Australia and New Zealand stresses the need for efficient immigration processes.

Recognizing the urgency, the Minister adds that they are taking steps to address the backlog in work permit processing which poses a significant threat to economic growth and investor confidence.