The government has introduced the medical visa category in a recently revised policy, easing rules for people seeking entry in Pakistan for health emergencies and work, an official and documents seen by Dawn.com said.
According to a letter issued by the Ministry of Interior to the Director General of Immigration and Passports, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the federal cabinet approved new changes to the visa policy on Feb 2.
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.
Commenting on issuance of visa without security clearance, Khan told Dawn.com 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. ISI, FIA and IB would also be intimated.
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. Along with photos and passport, the applicant would be required to submit an employment letter, undertaking on company letterhead, company profile, applicant's resume, cover letter on company's letterhead and registration of the company on the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.
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. The applicant would also be required to submit a BOI letter of recommendation. An extension of up to two years with multiple entries may be granted.
Security clearance would also be required for students who seek an extension in the duration of their stay. An extension of up to two years may be granted within 30 days after clearance from security agencies.
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
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)
Applicants applying for the 'visa in your inbox' category would be able to apply online and would receive authorisation on email.