25 November 2008

Canada added to APEC Business Travel Card scheme

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced yesterday at the APEC Leaders Week in Peru that his country has agreed to participate in the APEC Business Travel Card scheme as a transitional member economy.

The APEC Business Travel Card scheme allows businesspeople from member countries to streamline entry into other member countries in the Asia-Pacific region.  Holders of the Business Card need only apply for one every three years, which will allow multiple entries to participating countries for its duration. 

Although the cardholder's passport details and photographic identification is on the back of the card, it does not replace the holder's passport as the form of identification when going through customs.  It does mean, however, that cardholders do not have to apply for visas or entry permits and some ports may have APEC lanes for fast tracked immigration processing. 

There are currently 18 economies participating in the scheme now that Canada has confirmed its participation, including Australia, New Zealand, China and Japan. 

The Australian Minister of Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans said by streamlining the process for business travel the region is open to a greater potential of business opportunities. 

"Canada’s decision to join the APEC Business Travel Card scheme will further assist Australian business people travelling to Canada and also open the way for higher levels of cross-border trade and investment in the APEC region with Canada," Senator Evans said in a statement.

"There are now more than 48 000 active APEC cards across the region with about 17,000 held by Australian business people," he added.

For those without an APEC Business Travel Card wishing to visit or settle in Australia for business purposes, the government provides the Australian Business Visa program and the ETA Business Visa scheme.

The Australian Business Visa allows business owners, investors and senior executives to settle in Australia while developing business opportunities in Australian business.  The program provides two pathways to obtain permanent residency in Australia, including a Provisional Visa with a two-stage process to residency and a direct Permanent Residence for those sponsored by a state or territory government.

The ETA Business Visa scheme has two options for temporary business travel to Australia, the first being the Short-stay Business Visa, which allows holders to stay in the country for up to three months.  The second option is the Long-validity Business Visa, which stays in the holder's passport for the life of that passport and grants the holder multiple entries to Australia for up to three months per visit.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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