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June 24, 2009
Pakistanis run into roadblocks in attempts to get visas

For many, getting a travel visa is almost impossible.

For many travelers, obtaining a visa can be a frustrating experience marred by a variety of restrictions. A criminal record, even for minor crimes, can halt an application process. Countries like China and the United States ban H.I.V.-positive visitors.

Every year about 10,000 Pakistanis are granted student visas to Britain, while up to 20 times as many are rejected. Large scale rejections such as these are also due to fear of fraudulent applications by would-be illegal immigrants and terrorists.

Worldfocus contributing blogger Faisal Kapadia is a freelance writer living in Pakistan. He writes at “Deadpan Thoughts” about the difficulties faced by Pakistanis hoping to qualify for travel visas.

Summer has arrived in Pakistan, and with the advent of the hot blazing sunshine the exodus has begun. No, I do not mean people fleeing for good to azure shores or our politicians who seems to be able to invent any excuse to speak to the concierge at St Regis in D.C. — I mean us ordinary folks going on perhaps a hard-earned summer vacation, or the students who are applying for entry into foreign lands.

All of these poor sods have one thing in common; all of them require a “visa” to give them temporary status as a visitor in the foreign land of their choice. Sounds simple enough? Fill out a few forms attach a photo or two and send it of to the nearest embassy of your choice? Well, it is — for a citizen of any other country except for those with the dreaded green passport. Do not take this scribe’s word at face value; just look at the face of the immigration official when you hand him your passport on your next travel abroad.

The embassies we apply to must have a ball of a time devising the various hurdles that any visa application process for a Pakistani involves, as some of them require pictures with white backgrounds, some of the chin turned left, some without any form of covering or hijab, some with no beards and what not.

It’s come to a point where if you go to a photo center for getting your visa pics done, you find the oddest accessories suggested to “ensure” a smooth application. Most places have clip on ties and the photographer shouts things like “sit up” and to my amazement at the last visit a “do not smile.”

[…] Which brings me to the question, why do we subject ourselves to all this in the first place? Is it because there are no institutions of higher learning available in Pakistan for us to study in or that there is nowhere in Pakistan one can take a vacation to? Personally, I think it is time we showed our “allied” friends something resembling a cold shoulder if they continue to harass us in the myriad of ways described above.

To read more, see the original post.

The views expressed by contributing bloggers do not reflect the views of Worldfocus or its partners.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user photobunny under a Creative Commons license.

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