ISLAMABAD: The United States has reduced visa validity for Pakistani citizens from five years to 12 months whereas journalists and media persons will not be allowed to stay in the country for over three months without renewing the travel permit.
Meanwhile, an additional fee will also be charged for H (Temporary Work Visa), I (Journalist and Media Visa), L (Intercompany Transfer Visa), and R (Religious Worker Visa) visas only if the visa application is approved, said a statement issued by the US Embassy in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Additional fee of $32 for I Visas and $38 for all other visa categories must be paid at the Embassy Islamabad or Consulate General Karachi prior to visa issuance with effect from January 21, it added.
With the additional fee, journalists and media persons will now be required to pay $192 while the fee for all other visa categories will be $198.
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The decision was taken by the State Department “because Pakistan was unable to liberalise its visa regime for certain visa categories, [hence] the United States was required by US law on January 21 to reduce the visa validity and increase the visa fees to match Pakistan’s practices for similar visa categories.”
The State Department said it noted discrepancies between the US visa regime and the visa regimes of many countries, including Pakistan during a recent worldwide review.
The statement issued by the US Embassy did not specify anything about the B1 and B2 visas, which remain valid for five years.
B1 visa is issued for business visits while the B2 visa is for pleasure, tourism, and medical visits.
According to agency data released last month, the US State Department refused more than 37,000 visa applications in 2018 due to the Trump administration’s travel ban, up from less than 1,000 the previous year when the ban had not fully taken effect.