The universal amnesty given to foreign people living illegally in Pakistan, which allowed them to depart without being charged for overstaying their visa, would expire on December 31, according to Pakistan’s interior ministry.
The program, which went into effect in July, made it possible for visitors to apply for exit permits online if they planned to stay in the nation for up to a year after their visas expired.
Those who had stayed in the nation for more than a year following the expiration of their visa, however, were required to manually obtain the document after paying a specific financial penalty.
All foreign nationals received assurances from the interior ministry that they would not face legal repercussions for taking advantage of the program.
Foreign nationals who continue to live illegally in Pakistan after their visas have expired may face imprisonment or expulsion, according to Pakistan’s Foreigners Act of 1964.
A department officer at the ministry gave the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) the go-ahead on Thursday to start fining foreigners who overstay their visas after December 31.
“I am directed to refer to this Ministry’ letter of even number dated 29th July 2022 and to state that a general amnesty scheme was given to overstaying foreigners to exit Pakistan without paying overstaying charges with a cutoff date of 31 December 2022,” read the official letter.
It was stated that starting in January, all exit permits will be processed online and that after paying a fee, even those who had stayed in the nation for more than a year after their visas had expired would not be necessary to obtain the document manually.
“It is requested that in order to revert to the existing policy, NADRA may make changes in the POVS [Pakistan Online Visa System] to start a collection of overstay charges for exit permits w.e.f. 01-01-2023 and henceforth POVS may be enabled to process all exit permit applications online including overstay period of more than one year,” it said.
The letter stated that after the program expired at the end of the year, foreign individuals who overstayed their visas by more than a year would be put on a blacklist.
“Foreigners who have overstayed for more than one year may be put into the blacklist category for further entry into Pakistan with one-time permission to exit Pakistan,” the letter added.