Attn: Pakistanis who have a foreign spouse. Visa problems for foreign spouse of Pakistani citizens.
I want to form a group of Pakistani citizens who have foreign spouse, so that collectively we can “help” the government to realize that a such a group of people do exist, that we are not breaking any local or international law, that we are “normal” law abiding citizens, that we need to have a policy to address our specific civic needs, that it is against the natural and basic human rights to put their citizens through the very expensive cumbersome procedure every year to apply for and pay for visa for their spouse and children. Every wife and children have a natural right to be able to live with their husband/father.
The “wife” is a family member, not a businessman, investor or tourist. Her requirement to be in Pakistan to live with her family should be given more recognition than a “foreign housemaid” or “illegal aliens”! She can have the requirement to live with her family in Pakistan as often as the need may be; she has a legitimate need and right to retain the citizenship of her own country if she wishes so that she can go to visit her parents/family members. She should not have to apply for visa each time separately, as if she is a tourist. She should not be required to apply for a re-entry visa each time she wishes to visit her family in her home country. The government should recognize that the wife of a Pakistani citizen must not be put in the same category as foreign businessman or tourist.
Many countries in the world, for the facilitation of their citizens, have a policy to issue a “Green Card”, or a permanent residency card to the foreign spouse of their citizens. This card enables them to live, travel, work without visa. The Pakistani government does not recognize the foreign spouse of Pakistani citizens as having a legitimate right to live permanently in Pakistan, but they recognize people whom they call “illegal aliens”. The government legalizes these illegal “aliens” about whom they say on their website:
“A large influx of illegal immigrants during the preceding decades have endangered the writ of law and deprived citizens of their inherent vested rights such as employment etc.”
These “aliens” have to pay Rs.200 for a registration card that legalizes them and Rs.500 for a work permit. Unfortunately I cannot apply for this card for my family because they say that my case is not “illegal”! They also have a special category for “foreign housemaid”, give incentives to foreign businessmen, tourists, but the “foreign wife” of a Pakistani citizen is charged approximately Rs.16,000 per year for a multiple entry and Rs.8,000 per year for a single entry visa. The children are charged separately. I have three children, therefore they are asking from me Rs.62,000 for a multiple entry and Rs.32,000 for a single entry visa, per year, every year. Also, the cumbersome procedure to extend the visa has to be followed every year.
My wife is living with me in Pakistan for the past 17 years and all my three children were born in Pakistan and living in Pakistan since birth. They tell me why I married a foreigner and that I should have thought about the heavy fee before I got married. I think that this question is unethical and illegal. But my answer is that at that time the visa fee for family members was very nominal and there was no separate charge for children.
I have already met some senior people and have been told that my case is valid, that it is an oversight in the laws by the Government of Pakistan. The spiraling inflation and high unemployment has already broken our backs. If the citizens of other countries, including the very rich countries have the right to this basic human right, and are not required to pay so heavily for it than why should we suffer in silence? Let us all get together, send me an email on Protected content or call me on Protected content that we can meet and organize ourselves into a group.
The government should not be anxious or distressed at our simple request. Urgency in solving this issue is emphasized because many people cannot just put their lives on hold, or go through the additional pressure of stress every year, and wait until the government finds the time to draw legislation for us. My wife’s brother recently died in her home country. She has to go urgently but will not be able to come back without visa. Even the money for tickets I will have to take as a loan, how do I pay Rs. 32,000 additional charges for visa for such a simple and basic human need? I urge, request and beg the government to please give some importance to this issue and to please solve it on an urgent basis.
The officials at the lower level do not make the policies. They just follow them. I have already spoken to people at the lower and higher levels; they say the policies are made at even more higher places. I called the PM House. I just wanted to leave a message to who ever is the concerned person. But I was reprimanded for calling there and told that who am I to remind them about anything?
The visa office also tells me that they are doing this (human right violation) on a reciprocal basis because The Russian Federation also does the same with Pakistani citizens. I would like to inform them that Russia issues a green card, called a “vidnadzhelsteva” in their language, to the foreign spouse of their citizen. This permanent residency card is issued at a very nominal fee and entitles the holder the right for lifetime stay in Russia, the right to work, and all the same rights as their own citizens except the right to vote. Not only do foreigners including Pakistani citizens get solved their civic, legal and other government related issues at the lowest level without hassle, harassment or safarish because their system works systematically, but we also get more respect and recognition as equal humans from their authorities. Therefore, on a “reciprocal” basis, the Pakistani government should also do the same.
Why should we continue to apply for, run from pillar to post ever year for the rest of our and our families lives just to get visas for them every year, and to pay such high fee? They have a natural right to stay with us! They are not here for temporary stay, nor are they here for work or business.