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Immigration & Work Permits

Work Permits

In general, all non-citizens seeking employment in Papua New Guinea require a valid work permit before commencing work. Work permits must be secured for employees, and sponsored by a locally licensed and incorporated entity, which can be a problem for companies just entering the PNG market. If you have yet to complete the incorporation process you can use an outsourced management company or GEO Employer of Record to sponsor the employee for the necessary permits.

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It is possible for companies that have established a Rep (Representative) Office or WFOE (Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise) in PNG to arrange work permits. It takes around 6 weeks for approval and then another 2 weeks for issuance of the permit itself. It is highly recommended to utilise a PNG Immigration specialist to assist with the application and processing.

Regardless of the type of work permit, the appropriate application form must be completed and submitted. Applicants must be outside the country at the time of application.

1. The employer must ensure that the applicant’s intended position is permissible for foreign employees.

The PNG Government provides guidelines around which occupations may only be engaged in by PNG citizens. As a general guide, high skill level jobs are open for free recruitment of foreigners, as the number of PNG citizens able to undertake this employment is limited due to a skills shortage. However, semi-skilled jobs should be advertised in PNG first, and unskilled or low-skilled jobs are reserved for PNG citizens. Employees must ensure the position that is offered to the applicant is permitted under the Government’s guidelines.

Time: 1 day

Cost: Free

If the job must be advertised, as required by these guidelines, the following criteria are applied:

  • The job vacancy must be advertised in the Post Courier and the national newspapers (i.e. minimum 2 advertisements)
  • The advertisement must measure at least 60mm x 60mm

If no suitable citizen is found, the employer can apply for a work permit for a foreigner. This application must include a copy of the advertisement and be made within 3 months of the advertisement. The employer must also supply a statement explaining why no citizen was found suitable for the vacancy.

Time: Depending on which newspaper

Cost: As above.

1. The employer begins a new work permit application

Under s18 of the Employment Act, an employer must make an application for a work permit before engaging any foreigner in employment in PNG.

The application form must first be completed.

The following documents must be included:

  • Copy of the photo page of employee’s passport and two recent, passport sized photographs of the employee
  • Copy of updated résumé
  • Copy of job description
  • Certificated evidence of educational qualifications
  • Copy of employment contract signed by both the employee and the employer
  • Copy of the applicant’s right thumb print
  • Evidence of membership of any relevant professional association, specifically, any of the following:
    • Institute of Engineers PNG
    • Certified Practicing Accountants of PNG
    • Nursing Council of PNG
    • Maritime Safety Authority
    • Pharmacy Board of PNG
    • Law Society of PNG
    • Medical Board of PNG
    • Papua New Guinea Association of Surveyors
    • Papua New Guinea Institute of Architects
    • Civil Aviation Authority.

Proof of registration is usually done by submitting a letter or Membership Certification from the relevant association with the work permit application.

  • Evidence of English language proficiency, if relevant. Certain countries are not required to show proof of speaking English, and can be found on page 18 of the Work Permit Guide. Proficiency may be proven though the IELTS Certification, English Language Instruction Institution certification, tertiary qualification in English or 5 years secondary education at a school taught in English.
  • Employer’s Certification of Incorporation from the Investment Promotion Authority
  • Evidence of fee payment

All documents must be certified as true and correct by a Justice of the Peace or other notary.

Time: 1-2 days, depending on the level of preparation by the applicant and employer

Cost: K1,000 for each year of the work permit.

2. Application is screened and assessed

The application will be assessed by the Department of Immigration and the Department of Labour to ensure that all supporting documentation provided is genuine, the occupation is not reserved and all advertising requirements have been met, that the applicant has the requisite skills, qualifications and experience, and language abilities.

From this point, the application will be processed into the Foreigner Work Permit Application System.

Time: 3-6 weeks, contingent upon all information being correctly submitted.

Cost: Included in application fee

3. Application verified and endorsed for approval

The work permit will be printed, and referred to the Department Secretary to finalise the decision on whether or not the grant the work permit. The work permit and work permit card will both be available for collection once the Secretary’s approval is obtained. The employer must retain the work permit and ensure the card is provided to the employee.

Employers must maintain a Register of Work Permits including a list of all current work permits granted to any foreigners engaged in work with the employer, and all work permits cancelled by the Secretary.

Time: 1-2 days

Cost: Included in application fee.

4. Apply for entry permit

Once the work permit is granted, the applicant requires an entry permit. The application form must be filled out, and the following documents must be attached:

  • One passport sized photograph
  • Proof of fee payment

The fee can be paid at the Department of Finance or the nearest IRC or BMS office by the employer.

Time: Approximately 1-2 weeks.

Cost: K 1,000.

Use the Shield GEO solution

Once you get in touch with us, one of our consultants will take all the work off your hands, coordinate with our local partners to get all the required permits organised, provide the processing time, costs, document-checklist and keep you informed through the process.

Get in touch to find out more

Types of visas in Papua New Guinea

Category Description of Visa
Work Permit there is an employment contract of a commercial nature between an employer and employee.
Short term work permits are valid for up to six months from the date they are granted and cannot be renewed; long term work permits are valid from between 1-3 years and may be renewed. The length sought must be indicated by the employer on the application.
Business visa Business visas are issued by the Department of Immigration to foreigners who are in PNG for one of the following purposes:
- Business meetings
- Board meetings and conferences
- Exploratory business visit
- Participation in a business negotiation
Business visa holders are not permitted to engage in employment.
APEC Business Travel Card The APEC Business Travel Card allows the holder to conduct business meetings, discussions and negotiations only, not engage in employment. This is renewable.
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