News Desk |
Despite the US government’s abrupt decision to reconsider and alter its policy of providing Pakistani nationals five-year visas, Pakistan has decided to issue multiple-entry five-year visas to US nationals, reported IANS.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed Islamabad’s diplomatic missions across the United States to implement the new visa issuance policy for all American applicants. This new change was first introduced to the US Embassy in Islamabad on 10th May in response to inquiries about tourist visas and visit durations for American nationals.
Officials and analysts believe that Washington is likely to “reciprocate” this gesture, and in the long-run, these relaxations will facilitate investors and tourists.
A statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that it is an “honour to state that the government of Pakistan, in line with its policy to encourage tourism, has allowed granting of multiple-entry visas to US nationals for up to five years with a maximum stay of three months.”
Pakistan Responds to US Visa Policy Change
Earlier, the US issued similar kind of visas to Pakistani nationals, however, recently, it altered its visa issuance policy. For a long time, Washington has demanded Islamabad to change its visa issuance policies, and when Pakistan delayed in responding on the matter, the US changed its own visa policy.
Explaining the reason behind ushering in a new visa policy for Pakistani nationals, the US State Department had stressed that the decision was necessary “because Pakistan was unable to liberalize its visa regime for certain visa categories, (and therefore), the US was required by US law on January 21 to reduce the visa validity and increase the visa fees to match Pakistan’s practices for similar visa categories.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed Islamabad’s diplomatic missions across the United States to implement the new visa issuance policy for all American applicants.
The US policies included issuing five-year, multiple-entry tourist and visit visas to Pakistanis, and in certain instances, professionals, particularly journalists, were provided five-year multiple-entry visas. Washington demanded similar facilitation in visa issuance policies for US nationals, but when Islamabad failed to introduce such measures, the United States changed its policy.
Presently, the US is only issuing three-month visas to majority of the Pakistani applicants, and has also imposed new restrictions on its official visas. Earlier in April, Washington added Pakistan to a list of 10 countries that were slammed with sanctions for denying responsibility of welcoming back deportees and individuals who had overstayed their visas.
According to the new restrictions imposed by the US, some officials from within the Ministry of Interior are forbidden from obtaining US visas. Before Washington introduced the new US visa policy for Pakistani nationals, Islamabad had initiated a policy of issuing 90-day visas to US nationals.
Moreover, once in the country, US nationals could extend their visas from the Ministry of Interior, and in certain instances, US nationals were issued one-year visas alongside 90-day stay. The diplomatic message dispatched to the US Embassy in Islamabad by MoFA underscores that Washington has been demanding a five-year multiple-entry visa for its nationals for a long time.
The US stressed that visa policies are reflective of the bilateral paradigm shared by two countries, and since Washington was willing to provide Pakistani nationals five-year, multiple-entry visas, Islamabad must return the gesture.
Washington demanded similar facilitation in visa issuance policies for US nationals, but when Islamabad failed to introduce such measures, the United States changed its policy.
In the case of diplomatic missions, the two countries have distinctive policies, and American diplomats are provided a one-year visa that can be easily extended in case the individual decides to prolong the stay. On the other hand, since Pakistani diplomats usually spend three years in the US, they have issued visas for their entire posting.
Relaxed Visa Policy to Benefit Both Countries
Pakistani nationals living in the US and those aspiring to visit are hoping that the relaxations provided by Islamabad’s new visa policy for US citizens will help bring about a myriad of benefits for both countries. However, analysts and Pakistani applicants believe that these relaxations should have arrived earlier to avoid the US imposed restrictions.
Speaking to Dawn News, one Pakistani national commented, “Now, Washington will take its own time in reconsidering its policy, and this change may come in months or may take years. We don’t know.” Officials and analysts believe that Washington is likely to “reciprocate” this gesture, and in the long-run, these relaxations will facilitate investors and tourists.
An unnamed official of the Foreign Ministry told the Express Tribune, “The five-year visa will benefit the investors and tourists of both countries. The visa policy is according to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision to improve tourism and business. It may be reciprocated by the US.