American Samoa Immigration Laws

By Pharaba Witt
Immigration is always a complicated topic, but Samoa has specific rules.

Immigration laws in American Samoa are fairly straightforward. There are four main ways people can either claim citizenship or immigrate to the country. Most require simple documentation of your history along with your ability to provide for yourself when moving to the country.

Born in the Country

For those born in Samoa to at least one parent who is a Samoan citizen the immigrant must simply provide an original or certified copy of their Samoan birth certificate along with evidence of the citizenship of at least one parent. This type of citizenship does not require a fee or a form. Typically the verification of the parental citizenship is a copy of their birth certificate.

Born of a Citizen, Outside the Country

Another birth form of citizenship is a person who is a citizen by descent, in other words, who was born outside the country but has at least one parent who was a Samoan citizen at the time of their birth. This parent must be an actual citizen, not one of descent or if they are a citizen by descent they must have lived in Samoa for a combined total of at least three years during their lifetime. The cost is $100WST (approximately $39 USD) and an "Application for Samoan Citizenship by Descent" must be filled out. Copies of parental birth certificate and proof of residency (if required) must be turned in along with the applicant's birth certificate.

Permanent Resident Application

For those who are immigrating and have no previous Samoan relations, the options are marriage or permanent residence. To apply as a Permanent Resident, the applicant must have held a Samoan Permanent Resident Permit for at least five years before applying. The applicant must get a certified medical report indicating they are in good health. A police report is also required to prove they are of good character, no significant crimes. They must also document social and business activities for the five years. This is to prove they will be a functioning citizen who can provide a living for them. Also required is proof of identity (passport) and $3,000 WST (approximately $1,167 USD).

Application by Marriage

The application for Citizenship by PR/Marriage is the same. The person applying must be married to and living with a Samoan citizen for a minimum of five years before applying. All of the other requirements must also be met, just as a permanent resident. Both of these types of citizens must intend to continue living in the country.

Permanent Resident Permit path to Citizenship

Applying for a Permanent Resident Permit is quite detailed. Many people choose to start off as a Temporary Resident for Business or otherwise. There are many types of Temporary Resident Permits such as academic or scientific research, study, or religious purposes. To obtain a Permanent Resident Permit people must prove Samoan language skills as well as a planned activity in Samoa, statements of connections with Samoa and reference reports. Only 15 permanent resident permits are allowed in one year, though dependents under the age of 21 do not count as part of the 15 allowed per year.

About the Author

Pharaba Witt has worked as a writer in Los Angeles for more than 10 years. She has written for websites such as USA Today, Red Beacon, LIVESTRONG, WiseGeek, Web Series Network, Nursing Daily and major film studios. When not traveling she enjoys outdoor activities such as backpacking, snowboarding, ice climbing and scuba diving. She is constantly researching equipment and seeking new challenges.

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