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Passengers arrive at Jinnah International Airport, in Karachi. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: The Pakistan government has revised its visa policy, easing rules for foreign travellers and introducing a new medical visa category for the first time. Interior ministry spokesperson Zafaryab Khan confirmed the new additions and said that all unnecessary requirements have been removed in the revised visa regulations to facilitate the people.

Medical and work visa changes

A short-term medical visa of up to three months can be issued to cater to emergencies within 48 hours of the application’s submission, according to the new guidelines. Security clearance would not be required for the short-term visas, officials said. Meanwhile, the extended medical visa of up to one year would be issued within a month after clearance from agencies. Pakistan receives a large number of visa applications for medical treatment each year from neighbouring Afghanistan.

The interior ministry said the single-entry work visas for up to three months would be approved within 48 hours of the application and submission of required documents. The single-entry work can be extended up to two years with multiple entries granted.

New categories

The government has also merged several visa categories, reducing the number to 11. The new categories include tourist/visit visa (for tourism, visit, mountaineering), visa in your inbox (for tourists and business-oriented travel), business visa, work visa (work, domestic aide and journalism), family visit visa, study visa, religious tourism visa (for tabligh, missionaries and pilgrims), official visa (for officials and diplomats), NGO/INGO visa, medical visa, and other.

Officials say that the revamping and liberalisation of Pakistan’s visa regime is in line with the country’s ambitions to attract tourists, and boost trade and investments. “By instituting one of the most liberal visa policies in our extended region, we are demonstrating that Pakistan is open to the world” said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf.

E-visas only

Pakistan has moved entirely to e-visa services from February 1, 2021, phasing out the exhausting manual visa system. Travellers are advised to submit their applications online at the official visa system at https://visa.nadra.gov.pk. The e-visa facility is part of the Pakistan government’s digital transformation efforts to simplify and streamline visa facilities and encourage tourism and business visits to Pakistan.