Home »Business and Economy » Pakistan » Visas to be issued free of charge: 2,511 Chinese working illegally given dispensation by PM
Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the Board of Investment (BoI) to issue provisional recommendation letters without security clearance to 2,511 Chinese citizens illegally working on projects and to convert their visas into work visas without any fee, sources close to Chairman BoI told Business Recorder. The Cabinet on June 3, 2019 considered a summary of the Ministry of Interior and granted approval "in principle" as one-time dispensation to Chinese nationals to change their visas into work visas in Pakistan free of charge.

According to the BoI, the processing fee for work visa of $ 25 (approved by the Prime Minister and decided during the 5th Board meeting) was increased to $ 100 during the 7th Board meeting held on September 1, 2016. However, as per the recent Cabinet decision, the visas of 2,511 Chinese citizens are to be issued free of charge. The total of BoI's processing fee involved for issuance of work visa is $ 251,000 equivalent to over 40 million rupees.

As per revised visa policy shared by the Ministry of Interior on March 19, 2019, Pakistani Missions abroad are authorized to grant one year entry work visa with multiple entries to foreign expatriates on the recommendations of BoI which is extendable on yearly basis in Pakistan. Mandatory security clearance or otherwise is to be conveyed by the security agencies within four weeks positively. Ministry of Interior revealed that thousands of Chinese nationals working on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)/non-CPEC projects enter Pakistan initially on visit visas and then get extensions instead of going back on the expiry of their visas and return on work visa.

As per passport and visa manual 2006, part-II, section-B paragraph-8, type/purpose of visa issued by the Missions cannot be changed for any reason in Pakistan except business to work visa or vice versa.

Chinese embassy in Islamabad through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had revealed that there are 2511 Chinese technical and managerial personnel holding passports for public affairs in Pakistan. Most of them are for CPEC and non-CPEC projects invested by Chinese State Owned Enterprises (SoEs) and some are teachers from public universities. According to sources, Chinese embassy in Islamabad has approached the concerned authorities and requested for early issuance of work visas for the 2,511 Chinese citizens. The Board of Investment took up this matter with the office of Prime Minister.

The sources said, Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister-in-Charge of BoI has seen and approved the following proposals duly endorsed by Interior Division, with the direction to place the case before the federal cabinet in its next meeting: (i) processing fee amounting to $ 251,000(Rs 40.2 million) may be waived off in favour of 2,511 Chinese citizens as one-time dispensation; and (iii) BoI may issue work visa recommendation letter to 2,511 Chinese citizens without waiting for four weeks for mandatory security clearance, however, a copy of visa may be sent to the security agencies. Upon receipt of any adverse remarks from the security agencies the advice for cancellation of work visa may be issued, accordingly.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

the author

I did graduation from the Government Murray College Sialkot and MSc in Psychology from the University of Punjab. I am in journalism since 1990. I worked in Daily Nawa-i-Waqt as sub editor and staff reporter in Daily Pakistan and Daily Din prior to joining Daily Business Recorder. I have been associated with this newspaper since 2000 as staff reporter. Energy Sector, Commerce / Trade and Industries are key areas of my interest. I have also the credit of exposing number of scams like Rental Power Plants (RPPs), LNG, sugar import, etc.