As winter months approach, pilgrims traveling for the holy ritual of Umrah have begun preparations. However, there is a change in travel policies this year for Pakistani pilgrims. They will now need to get biometric verification before applying for the visa.

This new requirement will cost Pakistani pilgrims traveling for Umrah approximately PKR 1,040 Million each year. Due to this exorbitant amount, the Travel Agents Association of Pakistan (TAAP) staged a protest outside the Lahore Press Club on Monday to put an end to this tedious process.

According to the TAAP, the decision will not only double the miseries of the pilgrims but also put the personal and national data of the pilgrims at stake. The TAAP is urging travel agents to stop applying for the Umrah visa for a period of one month, this will in turn cause the Saudi government to change its decision.

As per ProPakistani, the Chairman Travel Agents Association Pakistan (TAAP) Muhammad Yahya Polani spoke on the on-going issue,

“KSA should review this policy. Pakistani pilgrims are mostly living in remote areas of the country and this will cause them additional hassle. Pilgrims have to wait for hours for this process”

The visa law has been put into effect from yesterday by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Every pilgrim will require a biometric registration before applying for a visa. Saudi authorities have now partnered with Etimad to implement this new law in Pakistan.

TAAP statistics show that last year 1.5 million pilgrims visited Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah from Pakistan while 185,000 performed Hajj.

The New Visa Law Requirements

  • Visa Fee PKR 60,000 Imposed by Saudi Government
  • Etimad office charges for Biometric verification of Rs 600 – 700 per pilgrim

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