With the approaching winter season, pilgrims have started preparing for going to perform the holy ritual of Umrah. This year a policy change has been introduced by the Saudi Arabian government for the Pakistani pilgrims. Biometric verification needs to be done before application for Umrah visas is filed.
The amendments would be costing an amount of about Pakistani Rupees 1,040 Million per year to all the Pakistani pilgrims going for Umrah. Because of this excessive amount the Travel Agents Association of Pakistan (TAAP) staged a protest outside the Press Club of Lahore on Monday demanding an end to this procedure.
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As per TAAP, this decision would not only be doubling the troubles of the pilgrims but would also be putting their personal and national data at risk. The TAAP is forcing travel agents to stop applying for Umrah visas for a one-month period, this, in turn, would urge the Saudi government to alter their decision.
The Chairman TAAP Muhammad Yahya Polani said on this whole matter that Kingdom should review this decision as most Pakistani pilgrims are residing in the distant areas of the nation and this policy would be causing them extra fatigue. Pilgrims now have to wait for many hours for this procedure.
This new visa law has been introduced and put into effect from yesterday by the Saudi Arab government. Every pilgrim would be needing a biometric registration before filing the application for a visa. Saudi authorities now have teamed up with Etimad for implementing this new law in Pakistan.
As per the statistic of TAAP, last year 1.5 million pilgrims from Pakistan visited Saudia to perform Umrah while 185,000 visited the Kingdom for performing Hajj.
New Visa Law Requirements
- Visa fee of Pakistani Rupees sixty thousand imposed by Saudi Government
- Etimad office charges for the Biometric verification are of six hundred and seven hundred per pilgrim
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