Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari on Thursday denied media reports of the United Arab Emirates' move to suspend the issuance of work visas to Pakistanis, saying that there was "no ban on export of Pakistani workforce".
In a two-part tweet, Bukhari said that "contrary to media reports", UAE Minister for Human Resources and Emiratisation Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli had "categorically stated that there is no ban on export of Pakistani workforce". Furthermore, the UAE was giving priority to those workers, who were registered on the Virtual Labour Market Database and had been laid off due to the economic slump caused by Covid-19, Bukhari tweeted.
The tweets come a day after media reports that the UAE had temporarily stopped issuing new visas to citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan and several mostly Muslim majority countries over security concerns.
On Thursday, the premier's aide added that there has been an 11 per cent increase Pakistani knowledge workers in the UAE. The Arab state was also encouraging applications for the 10-year golden visa, Bukhari said.
"Looking forward to continued collaboration with UAE leadership to address the issues of our diaspora," the special assistant to the prime minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development said in his tweet.
The ruling PTI also tweeted about SAPM Bukhari's virtual meeting with the UAE minister, saying that the premier's aide wanted to "dispel the negative reports on ban on Pakistani workers".
Suspension of visas
The tweets come days after reports emerged that the UAE had temporarily stopped issuing visas to citizens of a dozen countries, including those of Pakistan. The Foreign Office had confirmed the development last week, saying that UAE's decision was "believed to be related to the second wave of Covid-19".
"We are seeking official confirmation from the concerned UAE authorities in this regard," FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri had said, adding that the suspension was expected to last for a short time period.
However, yesterday media outlets reported that the visa issuance was stopped due to security concerns. The 13 countries, which would not be issued a visa for the time being, include Pakistan, Afghanistan and several mostly Muslim majority countries.
In a press briefing earlier today, FO spokesperson Chaudhri said that the change in UAE's visa policy has not been confirmed.
According to a document issued by a state-owned business park, UAE has stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 countries, including Iran, Syria and Somalia.
The document, which was sent to companies operating in the park, cited an immigration circular that came into effect on November 18.
It said applications for new employment and visit visas had been suspended for nationals, who are outside the UAE, of the 13 countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen, until further notice.
The visa ban also applies to citizens of Algeria, Kenya, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey, the document says.
It was not clear if there were any exceptions to the ban.