Working in Papua New Guinea: Employment of Expats - Missionaries, Mercenaries and Misfits

This article is intended as a general guide offering some practical advice to those expats intending to work and live in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and for companies wanting to employ expats in PNG. There’s a saying that there are three types of expats working in PNG: missionaries,

mercenariesand misfits (Note: not official categories!). As a rule, it doesn’t matter which category you fall into; you will usually need to obtain a valid work permit and visa before landing in PNG. There are some general exceptions, for example, where a non-citizen is employed by a recognised aid donor organisation which has been formally recognised by the PNG Government. All non-citizens and their employers need to comply with PNG employment legislation. The principal legislation concerning expats is the Employment of Non-citizens Act 2007, the Migration Act 1978, and associated regulations. Before making an application for a work permit, the non-citizen must be outside of the country (unless of course they already have a valid work permit and an application for another work permit has been made). Typically, there are two stages before a non-citizen can start working in PNG. Stage 1 – Work Permit (a) Complete Form 1- Application for New Work Permit Note: you will also need to attach: (i) National Police Clearance checks; (ii) Certificate of Good Health; (iii) X-ray report and HIV blood test results; (iv) Letter from employer; (v) Employment contract; (vi) Current Resume. (b) Lodge completed form and payment of the prescribed fees with the PNG Department of Labour and Industrial Relations (DLIR). Note: Stage 1 can take 8 weeks or more. Payment of the prescribed fee must be made at the time of lodgement. Prescribed fee

  • General Long Term Work Permit: K1,000 per year (about AUD$500)

  • General Short Term Work Permit: K500 (about AUD$250)

  • Volunteer Long Term Work Permit: K100 per year (about AUD$50)

  • Volunteer Short Term Work Permit: K50 (about AUD$25)

Practical hints

  • You should obtain National Police checks as soon as possible. This process can take a number of weeks to be processed. Your application will not be processed without this document

  • Use an immigration agent based in PNG to facilitate the work permit and visa process.

  • Keep a copy of the completed Form 1 application and all supporting documentation for your records.

  • Make sure that all supporting documentation (other than originals) are certified true and correct.

Stage 2 - Entry Permit (Visa) Once the work permit has been issued you must apply to PNG Immigration for the appropriate visa. When a non-citizen has been issued with a work permit they will be issued with a specific visa called the ‘Working Resident Entry Permit’. The term of the visa will reflect the term of the work permit. Note: Immigration also issues other types of visas such as: visitor visa, business visa and student visa.

Term Short term work permit - up to 6 months from the date it is granted. Long term work permit - from 6 months up to 5 years from the date it is granted. Prescribed Fee If application is made overseas K1000 (about AUD$500) [Note: prescribed fees was increased at the end of September 2013 from PGK550 to PGK1000)]. If renewed in PNG the current prescribed fee is K2000 (about AUD$1000). Please contact Keith Iduhu or Hilary Masiria if you require additional information regarding working in PNG. Disclaimer The information set out in this article is a general guide only about the laws in PNG and is not intended as specific legal advice.

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