ISLAMABAD: In order to regulate the process of issuing visas to Chinese nationals, the Ministry of Interior on Wednesday decided to tighten the relaxed visa regime, especially for Chinese citizens visiting Pakistan on business or work-related visas.
Chinese nationals seeking business visas would have to present an invitation from a recognised body at any of Pakistan’s missions in China. The ministry has also decided to discourage long-term visa extensions for Chinese citizens.
The strict visa policy has been introduced not only to plug loopholes, but also to ensure maximum security to Chinese citizens visiting Pakistan on various visa categories. Under the new visa regime, security clearance for issuance of business and work visas will be reviewed.
Chairing a meeting on Wednesday, interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan directed ministry officials to plug all loopholes in this regard to ensure maximum transparency. The Interior secretary, the advocate general, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) chairman, the Immigration and Passport (IMPASS) DG, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs DG and other senior officials of the interior ministry and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) attended the meeting.
It was noted that the decision had been taken to ensure transparency in the visa process and to preclude misuse of the visa-friendly regime between the two countries.
The minister also directed Nadra to expedite the consolidation of data of Chinese nationals present in Pakistan, so that the data could be shared with security agencies in the country in order to ensure maximum security arrangements. He said a comprehensive mechanism should be in place to share information about Chinese nationals employed on CPEC-related projects and others visiting the country for various jobs.
Taking note of a few incidents where forged documents of ghost companies were presented to embassies, the ministry decided that in the future, business visas and visas-upon-arrival would only be granted to those Chinese nationals who could produce invitations or assignment letters. The letters would have to be certified and endorsed by a recognised chamber of commerce and industry, and accompanied by a letter from commercial attachés and other designated officers of Pakistan posted abroad for the promotion of business activities.
It was decided that Nadra would help link the business community and the FIA via an electronic system that would share information between chambers of commerce and immigration authorities.
The meeting also decided to regulate the process of granting extension to business visas.
The powers of regional passport offices to grant visa extension would be immediately withdrawn, and in the future, all cases regarding a grant of extension to business visas would be dealt with at the IMPASS headquarters in Islamabad.
The IMPASS DG would be authorised to grant a three-month visa extension, and cases involving further extension would be referred by the IMPASS directorate to the interior ministry.
The participants of the meeting also decided to rationalise the process of issuing work visas to Chinese nationals intending to visit Pakistan for various government sponsored projects. They decided that Pakistan’s embassies and missions abroad would be authorised to issue a maximum of one-year multiple-entry work visas for any project after ascertaining the authenticity of the project and receiving security clearance from Chinese authorities.
They also decided that further extension of work visas would be granted by the Ministry of Interior only upon the request and provision of required documents by employers.
In view of the various issues faced by foreign spouses of Pakistani nationals, it was decided to re-introduce Pakistan Origin Cards to foreign spouses after addressing the issues that had led to suspension of the cards.