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Govt decides to waive off Rs40.2m visa fees of Chinese workers

Govt decides to waive off Rs40.2m visa fees of Chinese workers

ISLAMABAD: The government is all set to waive off Rs40.2 million visa fees of 2,511 Chinese nationals working on development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan.

According to media the waiver would be a one-time dispensation to Chinese nationals to change their visit visas into work visas in Pakistan free of charge.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had given a go-ahead to table the matter in the upcoming meeting of the federal cabinet for approval.

The cabinet had considered a summary submitted by the Interior Division on May 16, 2019 and granted approval in principle as a one-time dispensation to Chinese nationals to change their visit visas into work visas. Now, the government wants to waive off multimillion-rupee fees. Thousands of Chinese nationals are working on the CPEC and non-CPEC projects in Pakistan.

According to the policy, visas issued by missions could not be changed for any reason in Pakistan. Under the policy, Chinese nationals would get extension in their visas here instead of going back after the expiry of their visas and returning on work visas. The government had granted a one-time dispensation to 2,511 Chinese nationals in May this year.

The Chinese Embassy had informed that if they went back to China to get their visas changed, the construction work would get delayed.

The Chinese Embassy had requested the government of Pakistan to grant permission in principle as a one-time dispensation to Chinese nationals to change their visit visas into work visas in Pakistan free of charge. The government granted the request.

The processing fee for work visa of $25 approved by the prime minister was increased to $100 during the fifth Board of Investment (BoI) meeting held on September 1, 2016. However, as per the recent cabinet division, the visas to 2,511 Chinese citizens are to be issued free of charge. The BoI’s processing fee for issuance of work visas is $251,000, which is equivalent to Rs40.2 million.

As per the revised visa policy shared by the Ministry of Interior, the Pakistani missions abroad were authorised to grant one year entry work visa with multiple entries to foreign expatriates on the recommendations of the BoI which was extendable on yearly basis in Pakistan. Mandatory security clearance was to be done by the security agencies within four weeks. The Chinese mission in Islamabad requested for early issuance of work visas to 2,511 of its citizens.

Sources told that the BoI had taken up the matter with the PM Office. The prime minister in his capacity as minister in-charge of the BoI had seen the proposal and was pleased to approve it, which was duly endorsed by the Interior Division with directions to place the matter for consideration of the cabinet in its upcoming meeting.

The cabinet would approve waiver of processing fee amounting to $251,100 in favor of 2,511 Chinese citizens as a one-time dispensation to them for working on CPEC projects in Pakistan.