SIMPLE 12 STEP PROCESS FOR EXTENDING A FIJIAN VISITORS PERMIT

I wrote this for a couple of Chinese guys from HP who were visiting my customer in Fiji for the first time and thought I’d re-publish (with a couple of corrections) here.

For citizens of many parts of the world, Fiji is a very easy country to get into. You just turn up and they stamp your passport on arrival. People visiting for a vacation or to visit friends and family typically get three months on arrival. However, if you tick “business” on the Fiji Immigration card, they give you a mere 14 days and will explain that you need to visit the immigration office in Suva if you wish to get it extended.

Note: The maximum by which the Fijian Immigration department can extend a business traveller’s permit is four weeks, making the maximum length of your stay six weeks. If you need to stay longer, then you’ll need to hop out to another country (Australia and New Zealand being the obvious choices) and hop back in. The Fijian Immigration department doesn’t seem to mind this.

This is actually a very easy process but the Fijian Immigration department is very exacting in what they require from you in terms of documents. Like any process, we have some inputs, the process itself and an output (a stamp on your passport). I’ll start with a checklist of things you must have in order to meet these requirements:

  • You need a yellow form for extending a Fiji visitors permit (available from the Fijian Immigration department in the Civic Tower, Victoria Parade, Suva)
  • You need a letter of immigration from the organisation you are visiting in Fiji (more of which below)
  • Your passport (obviously)
  • A return ticket to your home country which must have the same date as you state on your yellow form
  • FJD 185
  • Some proof that you have funds to support yourself in Fiji (I generally take cash and let them copy the details of my Corporate Amex card which I never use anyway).

Now, in addition to the above, the letter from the organisation your are visiting is also subject to some fairly exacting standards. It must include:

  • Your name
  • Why you are visiting them
  • Why they need you to stay longer
  • When they need you to stay until (which must match the date on your yellow form and the date on your ticket)
  • All the details from the photo page of your passport
  • Additionally, the letter should be in the name of, and signed by someone reasonably senior in the organisation you are visiting.

So, with the inputs out of the way, let’s take a look at the process itself:

  1. Get the Civic tower at 08:15.
  2. Go to ground floor office on the left of the entrance.
  3. Wait at the counter window.
  4. Ask for a yellow visa extension form.
  5. Fill in the form (it is quite straight forward).
  6. Hand the form, your passport, flight tickets and letter from your client, church or NGO over at the counter.
  7. The immigration officer will likely inspect these items and stamp the form on the spot.
  8. You then need to take the form over to the office on the right hand side of the entrance to the civic tower.
  9. Go to the cashier’s desk in this office and hand over the form plus the FJD185.
  10. The cashier will take the money and stamp the form.
  11. Take the form (and everything else) back to the immigration counter and hand over.
  12. Wait.

Finally, I’ve thought of some questions you might ask:

  1. Could I be refused an extension to my temporary permit? Well, since being in any country other than your own is a privilege and not a right, yes they can. However, as long as you are compliant and the organisation you are visiting is in good standing with them, this seems unlikely (I don’t think it has ever happened to anyone visiting my client out there). Incidentally, the Immigration Officers are human so do consider being nice to them.
  2. How long does it take? Simple answer: Anything from 20 minutes to a week. They have a finite number of people but once you have your stamped receipt (which effectively seems to amount to their undertaking to extend you) and they have your passport, you should be extended (even if you go over your two weeks while waiting for them). Remember: Get to the immigration office early and get everything underway a good few days before your initial permit expires.
  3. I entered Fiji for the purpose of business, am at the end of my stay but like the place so much, I;d like to tack a holiday onto the end. Is this possible? No; unless you’ve planned all this in advance and the total length falls within 6 weeks, your only option is to hop out to Australia or NZ and hop back in (don’t forget you need a Visa, obtainable online within minutes for many, to enter Australia.
  4. I’ve actually come to Fiji on Holiday, am a the end of my three months and want to stay longer? It’s actually very similar though extending the permit probably costs less. You’ll not need a letter of invitation but the immigration office will probably place a higher burden of proof on you to demonstrate you are able to support yourself.
  5. Are there any better alternatives for the business traveller? Yes, you can get a six month work permit but the Fijian Immigration Authorities require a police report to show you are of good character. Last time I asked at Old Trafford cop shop about getting one of these, they didn’t have a clue what I was blathering on about.


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~ by jasonhindle on July 14, 2009.

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