Pakistan introduces new visa rules, eases travel for medical emergencies

Sajjad Hussain
·2-min read

Islamabad, Feb 15 (PTI) Pakistan has introduced the medical visa category in a recently revised policy, easing rules for people seeking entry in the country for health emergencies and work, a media report said on Monday.

The new rules were approve by the federal cabinet on February 2, Dawn newspaper reported on its online version.

The report is based on a letter issued by the Ministry of Interior to the Director General of Immigration and Passports, the paper said.

Although the document does not explicitly state that the medical visa category has been introduced for the first time, interior ministry spokesperson Zafaryab Khan confirmed it was a new addition.

Under the new guidelines, security clearance would not be required for those seeking a short-term medical visa or an individual work visa. However, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) would be intimated.

The government has also merged several visa categories, reducing the number from 18 to 11.

The new categories include: tourist/visit visa (for tourism, visit, mountaineering and trekking), visa in your inbox (for tourism and business purposes), family visit visa, business visa, work visa (work, domestic aide and journalism), study visa (students and deeni madaris), religious tourism visa (for tabligh, missionaries and pilgrims), official visa (for official and diplomatic purposes), NGO/INGO visa, medical visa and other.

Applicants applying for the 'visa in your inbox' category would be able to apply online and would receive authorisation on email, the report said.

Commenting on issuance of visa without security clearance, Khan told the paper that authorities follow due process before approving an application.

He said those visiting the country to get medical treatment could only go to certain authorised hospitals, therefore, risks were minimal and added that security checks were in place.

'Security clearance for medical visas is not required anywhere in the world,' he said.

A short-term medical visa of up to three months can be issued to an individual, family and attendant 'to cater to emergencies'.

The visa would be issued within 48 hours of the application's submission, according to the new guidelines.

An extended medical visa of up to one year, meanwhile, would be issued within a month after clearance from agencies.

A single-entry work visa would be issued to an individual for up to three months, within 48 hours of the application's submission. Security clearance would not be required but intelligence agencies would be intimated, according to the document.

Khan said in its revised policy, the government had dropped all 'unnecessary' requirements and applicants would only have to submit necessary documents. 'We have to facilitate people as well,' he said.

Security clearance, however, would be required if an individual, who has been issued a single-entry work visa, seeks an extension. An extension of up to two years with multiple entries may be granted. PTI SH ZH ZH