Visa Policy for tourists, newsmen businessmen relaxed.

The government has announced revised and relatively eased visa policy on Friday with a view to making the country more tourist, trade, business and investor friendly. Federal Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao flanked by Minister for Tourism Nilofar Bakhtair announced the visa policy in a press conference here on Friday.

Sherpao said that “substantial changes have been made in the existing visa policy, which was approved by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on June 29”.

Minister for Tourism Milofar Bakhtiar said the revised visa policy would encourage inflow of foreign tourist, investors and businessmen considerable boost to trade, travel and tourism into Pakistan.

Sherpao said the Pakistan missions abroad have been given authority to grant various types of entry visas to the foreign tourist, visitors on their own without referring applications to Ministers at home.

The Minister said List –A of countries has been expanded from 48 to 175 by adding the entire residual list of 127 countries. Tourists friendly countries have also been increased from two (China and Japan) to 23 for grant of Visa On Arrival (VOA) to group tourists through designated tour operators in Pakistan.

Sherpao said business visa list has been increased from 48 to 69 countries for grand of VOA to foreign businessmen on production of recommendation letter from Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the respective country of the foreigner or invitation letter, from business organization duly recommended by the concerned trade organization, association in Pakistan or recommendatory letter by Honorary Investment Counselor of Board of Investment or Commercial Attache posted at Pakistan missions abroad.
He said Pakistan missions abroad will grant five years business visa with multiple entries to investors, businessmen within 24 hours on production of the said requirements. Sherpao said the visa policy conversion of business visa into work visa and vice versa in Pakistan had been discontinued, he said.

Pakistan missions abroad will grant work visa to foreign expatriates upto five years instead of previously allowed for three years, he said adding Board of Investment will process work visa applications expeditiously within four weeks.

About foreigners of Pakistan origin and their foreign spouses, he said they will be granted five years multiple entry visas with duration of one year stay, extendable in Pakistan on yearly basis. He said in the category of visas for journalists, Pakistan missions abroad are authorized to grant visa to foreign journalists for duration of their assignments in the shortest possible time on their own.

Foreign businessmen and professionals from all over the world will be encouraged through easier and hassle- free visa processing by the Pakistan missions abroad, said Sherpao. The minister said special care has also been taken to promote travel and tourism with India to improve Confidence Building Measures (CBM) between the two countries.

He said visa for civil society persons, senior citizens, children under 12, widows and divorcees from India has been enhanced upto two years. Indian Group tourists, he said would now be allowed 30 days visa instead of 14 days through designated tour operators.

Indian nationals (not less than 10 in member) would be allowed pilgrimage visa to visit their specified holy shrines in Pakistan for 15 days instead of five days, he added. In the revised visa policy, Indian businessmen have been encouraged to visit Pakistan to promote business activity between the two countries by adding new visa type called “Business Visa” which was previously not allowed.

He said they would be allowed six months business visa with multiple entries and maximum stay of 30 days subject to production of requisite documents. Diplomatic and non- diplomatic visas of Indian diplomats posted in Pakistan would be processed expeditiously. Security clearance wherever required will be processed in four weeks only, he continued.