Virginia, US
In a global economy, business travel has increased significantly.  Business travel by its very nature tends to be urgent and short- term, and securing visas can be easily overlooked.  For Australian, senior executive travellers, one way to avoid any unnecessary delays or issues is to consider applying for an APEC Business Travel card (ABTC).
 
The ABTC gives business travellers a faster and easier entry to economies of the Asia-Pacific region by eliminating the need to apply for a visa or entry permit each time the person travels to any of the participating APEC economies.  ABTC holders also benefit from fast-track entry and exit through special APEC lanes at major airports, and multiple short term entry to these economies for a minimum of 60 days stay each visit. 
 
The ABTC is most suitable for senior level executives who travel frequently for business.  Broadly speaking to be eligible for an ABTC, the traveller must
 
  • travel frequently from their home country to an APEC economy-evidence of at least four business trips in the past 12 months to anywhere in the APEC zone is required;
  • have not been convicted of a criminal offence;
  • be employed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or regional or country head of a registered business entity - alternatively the CEO, CFO or regional head can  nominate a member of staff;
  • possess a valid work and residence permit (for those living in a country other than their passport nationality); and
 
The business entity must also be engaged in international trade or investment between APEC economies.
 
An ABTC allows card holders to enter participating countries visa free for 60-90 day to conduct business relates activities.  The19 fully participating members are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, China, Chile, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Peru, the Russian Federation, the Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, and Vietnam.  The remaining two economies (Canada and the USA) are transitional members of the scheme and only provide fast track immigration processing lanes.
 
An application for an APEC card is filed with the Immigration Department of the travellers’ passport nationality.  For example, an Australian national on assignment in Singapore would file their ABTC application with the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection. As a guide, an ABTC is likely to take 3 to 6 months to process. The good news, though, is that applications lodged on or after 1 September 2015 will be granted an ABTC valid for 5 years. 
 
Fragomen’s Sydney Consular Practice Team can assist with an ABTC application. Please contact  Jennifer Astey at jastey@fragomen.com  to get your application started.