IHC asks ministry to expedite US blogger’s visa application

Published May 22, 2022
US blogger Cynthia D Ritchie. — Twitter/File
US blogger Cynthia D Ritchie. — Twitter/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has asked the interior ministry to decide the visa application of US blogger Cynthia D Ritchie expeditiously and in accordance with law.

IHC Justice Aamer Farooq disposed of the Ritchie’s petition filed against refusal of the interior ministry to extend his visa.

Ritchie filed the petition before the IHC following the interior ministry rejected her visa application and ordered her deportation.

IHC initially stayed interior ministry’s decision to deport US blogger.

In her plea, Ritchie said her request for a visa extension had been rejected despite providing all the relevant documents, adding that the interior ministry did not state the reasons for doing so either.

In her petition with the IHC, Ritchie said her visa had expired and she had applied for a work visa with all the necessary documents.

“[But] due to the pandemic, her application could not be processed and the visas of all foreigners were extended by a general order, and the same premium was also afforded to the petitioner,” it said.

Ritchie said she had moved another application for a work visa due to a change of sponsor which was also not decided due to Covid-19, and was later “shocked” to receive a letter from the interior ministry stating that her visa application had been rejected.

She added that the interior ministry had earlier submitted its comments, during the hearing of a petition filed by an activist of the PPP, that Ritchie was not involved in “anti-state and illegal activity” in Pakistan.

“Further, while filing the visa application all the requirements of a work visa were complied with. Despite that, the visa application was rejected without affording any reasoning,” she said in her petition.

During the course of hearing, the interior ministry informed the court that Ms Ritchie was given an opportunity of hearing and the ministry would decide her application in due course.

Justice Aamer Farooq of the IHC termed that the reply of the ministry was satisfactory, however, the judge directed the interior secretary to decide the matter expeditiously and in accordance with law.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2022

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