Chinese embassy has further expanded Chinese visa services in Pakistan to promote people-to-people contact between the two countries.
As a major development, China opened a visa service center in Lahore to facilitate applications seeking Chinese visa.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing inaugurated the center. The ceremony was attended by high-ranked government officials, Chinese Consul General Long Dingbin, Deputy Consul General Peng Zhengwu and other diplomats.
On the occasion, Zhengwu said that inauguration of the visa center was a landmark step to bring ease to local people.
“Earlier, residents of Lahore had to travel all the way to Islamabad to apply for [Chinese] visa that cost commutation expense and mental agony. It is an enormous relief to the growing number of businessmen and others, particularly who hail from Lahore, which,” he said, “is the new hub of economic activity in Punjab.”
He said the plan to lay down visa facility was in pipeline for many months and finally it has been materialized in a befitting manner.
Responding to a question, he elaborated that, in order to facilitate citizen exchange program between the two countries, the Center will handle nonimmigrant Chinese visa , Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) visa and Macao SAR visa applications, biometric information collection and visa delivery.
Clarifying the functions of visa center, Zhengwu said the center did not have any authority to issue visa, adding that its main operation will be to collect and forward the relevant documents to the Chinese embassy in Islamabad.
“China embassy will not operate the visa center in Lahore directly. It has outsourced it to a private company,” he clarified.
“Only the visa officer in the embassy has the authority to issue the visa as well as the validity period of the visa, the duration of stay and number of entries based on the applicant’s specific circumstances. The visa officer may request the applicant to provide further supporting documents or supplementary materials as required or request the applicant for a live interview.”
Those applicants who hold diplomatic or official passports, or who apply for Chinese diplomatic, official, courtesy or talent visas, may submit their applications directly to the embassy after filling up application forms online on the website without prior appointments.
The embassy said as per the arrangement of reciprocal exemption of visa fees between China and Pakistan, no consular fees is being charged from Pakistan citizens. The visa center will only charge service fees for Chinese visa applications.
Additionally, the center will charge visa application fees from the third country’s nationals, it added.
Diplomatic passport holders are exempted from visa requirement and may stay up to 30 days in China, up to 14 days in Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR respectively. Official passport holders of Pakistan are exempted from visas and may stay up to 30 days in the mainland of China and up to 14 days in Hong Kong SAR of China.
Approximately 4000 applications are received at Islamabad visa center on a monthly basis. Last month, the number went to 6000 because of the peak season for student visa application.