US slashes visa validity for Pak citizens from 5 years to 1 year
Islamabad: The US has revised its visa policy for the Pakistani citizens by slashing the visa validity from five years to 1 year, according to a media report.
In an official notification issued by the American embassy here on Tuesday, the US said that 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, the Express Tribune reported.
"The US has reduced visa validity for Pakistani citizens from five years to 1 year whereas journalists and mediapersons will not be allowed to stay in the country for over three months without renewing the travel permit," the paper said quoting the notification.
According to the notification, an additional fee of USD 32 for I Visas and USD 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.
The new US policies have been brought at par with Pakistani embassy in Washington's rules. Pakistan also issues visas for three months to American journalists.
"The decision was taken by the State Department because Pakistan was unable to liberalise its visa regime for certain visa categories, hence the US was required by American law on January 21 to reduce the visa validity and increase the visa fees to match Pakistan's practices for similar visa categories," the report said.
Meanwhile, The US is "very closely" following the reports that Pakistan misused American-made F-16 fighter jets against India in the recent aerial confrontation between their air forces, according to a top State Department official.
The Indian Air Force on Thursday displayed parts of an AMRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile as evidence to "conclusively" prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during an aerial raid targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir after India's anti-terror operation in Balakot.
Pakistan has said that no F-16 fighter jets were used.
The US State Department has said that America is seeking more information from Pakistan on the potential misuse of American-made F-16 fighter jets by it against India in violation of the end-user agreement.
"We've seen those reports and we're following that issue very closely," US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters at his biweekly news conference on Tuesday.
He was responding to questions that Pakistan has violated the end-user agreement on F-16 fighter jets that it procured from the United States.
"I can't confirm anything, but as a matter of policy, we don't publicly comment on the contents of bilateral agreements that we have in this regard involving US defence technologies nor the communications that we have with other countries about that.
"So, we're taking a look and we're going to continue to take a look. I'm going to leave it at that," Palladino said.
The AMRAAM missiles allow a fighter pilot to target an enemy aircraft that is beyond visual range, in day or night, and in all-weather conditions.
They have an autonomous guidance capability, which allows the pilot to manoeuvre immediately after the missile's launch.
Tensions between India and Pakistan flared up after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
India launched a counter-terror operation in Balakot on February 26.
The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 and captured its pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was handed over to India on Friday.