As per earlier reports, the Pakistani government has decided to stop the manual processing of visas for foreigners. The Correspondent reported on the 27th of January that the government had decided to stop the manual issuance of Pakistani visas in the UK. This policy will now extend to Pakistani embassies all around the world effective immediately.
An official statement by the government read, “Pakistan government has decided to stop manual processing of visa cases; therefore, all visa applications will be processed through online visa portal only with effect from February 1, 2021.”
E-visas are now an official requirement for all travellers coming into the country, who aren’t Pakistani nationals. This comes in lieu of lockdowns in different countries that make the manual processing of visas extremely difficult. Pakistan has had an e-visa system for a while but it was recently updated to support the influx of traffic that this policy would bring.
A notification to all visa-issuing authorities on the 14th of January read, “The Ministry has successfully concluded the upscaling of the Pakistan Online Visa System (POVS) by incorporating the remaining countries. Nationals of 191 countries can now apply for visas under different categories through the POVs.”
Those looking to travel to Pakistan can simply log into the POVS by visiting the website, fill out the application for their desired visa category, upload the required documents and pay the visa fee. Their applications will then be processed by relevant authorities including the Ministry of Interior. After these applications are processed an intimation/visa latter will be sent to applicants via email. If their applications are approved, they can visit the nearest Pakistani consulate or passport office to get their visa sticker pasted on their passport.
Foreigners who are already in the country and want an extension can also apply for these extensions through the POVs.
This digitization of visa applications looks to make the Pakistani visa application, which is notoriously complicated as it is, a little easier. The centralization of information on one singular portal will also reduce chances of forgery and corruption while also allowing authorities to verify traveller information when necessary.
While this may not be the best time to promote tourism, modernizing the application process may yet bring more people, and consequently business, into the country after the pandemic is over.