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Regional News

American Samoa guest-worker program reopened

APIA (Samoa Observer/Pacnews) —  Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has welcomed the American Samoa government’s decision to reactivate the guest-worker program. 

He said the relationship between Samoa and the American territory is mutual and the partnership between the two governments will always benefit the two.

“There are times American Samoa needs us and vice versa and also American Samoa is fortunate enough to have the United States of America, the richest country in the world,” he added.

According to Samoa News, American Samoa Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale confirmed that Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga reactivated the program on Jan. 11, 2019 as requested by StarKist Samoa which has encountered a “severe and acute absenteeism challenge.”

Talauega said the program only applies to the canneries. Workers recruited under this provision of the territory’s laws are sponsored by cannery production company StarKist, but the employees should make prior arrangements to reside with a family in Pago Pago.

The processing of the permit and ID card does not require going through the Immigration Board, added Talauega, but the application goes directly to the Attorney General’s Office. Once all the required paperwork is in place and the request is approved, the permit is issued and the employee starts working immediately.  

Enacted a few years ago in American Samoa, the permit law authorizes the attorney general “to issue guest worker permits...for the purpose of entry of persons of Samoan ancestry born in the Independent State of Samoa into American Samoa for purposes of employment by either of the two canneries or call center.”

The law defines the sponsor as an employer belonging to the canneries or call center doing business in American Samoa requesting a guest worker permit for an individual to enter the territory for purposes of employment by the canneries or call center.