Pakistan to tighten visa rules for Chinese

  • Interior Ministry’s decision to ensure transparency, to preclude misuse of visa-friendly regime
  • Govt likely to re-introduce Pakistan Origin Cards to foreign spouses of Pakistanis

The Ministry of Interior Affairs here on Wednesday took a policy decision to review the conditions and requirements for the issuance of business and work visas for the Chinese nationals.

Requesting not being named, well-placed sources said that the decision to review the visa regime for Chinese visiting Pakistan was taken in wake of the recent abduction and killing of a Chinese couple from Quetta who was found in secret preaching of Christianity.

The decision, taken during a high-level meeting held under the chairmanship of Minister for Interior Affairs Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, would ensure transparency in the visa process and also preclude misuse of a visa-friendly regime that exists between the two countries.

It is a part of ministry’s efforts to ensure maximum security of the Chinese nationals visiting Pakistan on various visa categories and to streamline and regulate the entire process of visa issuance to Chinese nationals, a news release said.

“After the incident involving the issuance of visas to around one and a half dozen Chinese nationals who were later found secretly preaching in Quetta in blatant violation of their visa, we have decided to tighten the visa process,” a source in the Interior Ministry said.

The source said that the embassy in Beijing would be asked to ensure strict scrutiny of the documents provided for the visa to ensure that the influx of Chinese nationals visiting Pakistan may not flout the visa rules and regulations.

In future business visas and visa on arrival to the Chinese nationals would only be granted after production of invitation/assignment letter duly certified and endorsed by the recognised chamber of commerce and industry along with a letter from commercial attaché’s and other designated officers of Pakistan who are posted abroad for the promotion of business activities, the release said.

The National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) will help chambers and the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) in putting in place an electronic system for sharing of information between the chambers of commerce and industry and the immigration authorities. The meeting also decided to regulate the process of granting extensions in business visas and to immediately withdraw the powers of regional passport offices for granting visa extension.

In future, all cases regarding grant in the extension of business visas would be dealt at the Immigration and Passports (IMPASS) headquarters in Islamabad. The IMPASS director general would be authorised to grant three months visa extension, while cases involving further extensions would be referred by the IMPASS Directorate to the Interior Ministry. Longer extensions would be discouraged.

The meeting also decided to rationalise the process of issuance of work visas to the Chinese nationals, who intend to visit Pakistan for various government approved/sponsored projects. The Pakistan embassies and mission abroad would be authorised to issue maximum of one year multiple entry work visa for any project after ascertaining the authenticity of the project and receiving security clearance from the Chinese authorities.

The meeting decided that further extensions in work visa would be granted by the Ministry of Interior only on the request and provision of the required documents by the employer. The interior minister directed his ministry to plug in all loopholes in the issuance of visas to the Chinese nationals, so as to ensure maximum transparency in the entire process.

Nisar also directed NADRA to expedite consolidation of data of Chinese nationals present in Pakistan so that the data could be shared with the security agencies ensuring security arrangements. He said that a comprehensive mechanism should be put in place for sharing of information of not only China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related workers but also of other Chinese nationals visiting the country for various jobs.

Keeping in view various issues being faced by the foreign spouses, who are married to Pakistani nationals, it was decided to re-introduce Pakistan Origin Cards to the foreign spouses after addressing certain issues that led to the suspension of these cards. The meeting was attended among others by interior secretary, advocate general, NADRA chairman, IMPASS director general, director general of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and senior officials of the relevant departments.