I AM a Pakistani citizen living and working in Saudi Arabia for the last 45 years. In a recent interaction with Pakistani high commission staff in Singapore, I found them to be seriously uncooperative. The relevant staff simply refused to attest my letter of introduction (form v39a) that was required for a Singapore visit visa even though I had a perfectly valid Saudi residence visa on my passport.
I had applied for a Singapore visit visa online through the official website of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) of Singapore.
I received an email from the ICA, asking me to submit, along with other supporting documents, a letter of introduction (LoI) attested by the Pakistani consulate in Singapore.
I contacted the Pakistani high commission in Singapore and requested them to attest my LoI. However, they refused to do so, saying that the high commission does not issue such documents, and asked me to instead approach my agent for tourist/visit visa.
I find this response unacceptable and unreasonable as the ICA website clearly says “LoIs issued by your embassy can also be accepted, if you are unable to secure an LoI from a local contact to support your visa application for social and business visits”.
The LoI is a simple document that states the purpose of visit, duration of stay and contact details in Singapore. It does not contain any sensitive or confidential information that needs verification by the Pakistani consulate. The whole process is merely a formality that the ICA requires from visa applicants from certain countries, including Pakistan.
I did submit to the high commission my airline ticket, hotel stay reservation receipt and all other verification documents for my two-day visit from Malaysia, where I was visiting my daughter. By their refusal, I lost my airline ticket money as it was non-refundable.
The Pakistani high commission in Singapore should be more cooperative and helpful to Pakistani citizens who want to visit Singapore for tourism. They should not create unnecessary hurdles for them. They should understand that their role is to serve and protect the interests of Pakistanis abroad, not to create problems for them.
The Pakistani high commission in Singapore should reconsider its policy and practice regarding LoIs and their attestation for visa purposes.
The relevant authorities in Pakistan should also take notice of the matter and have the issue resolved permanently.
Mohammad Mohsin Meer
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2023