The first Qatar Visa Centre (QVC) in Pakistan opened on Thursday in Islamabad, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced in a statement.
The QVC in Karachi will be inaugurated on Saturday.
Qatari officials who attended the opening of the Islamabad centre included Major General Abdullah Salim al-Ali, adviser at the office of the Minister of Interior; Major Abdullah Khalifa al- Muhannadi, director of Visa Support Services Department of the MoI, and Mohamed al-Meer, labour expert at the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs.
Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, special assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resources Development, was also present.
Speaking on the occasion, Qatar's ambassador to Pakistan Saqr bin Mubarak al-Mansouri said “the centre is opened in the context of strengthening bilateral relations between Qatar and Pakistan and it also shows the keenness of Qatar to support the long-time relations between the two countries. Qatar has decided to choose Pakistan as one of the first eight countries to launch QVCs."
The envoy said the opening of the QVCs would facilitate the recruitment of skilled labour from Pakistan and provide necessary services for obtaining visas, both for the purpose of visit and residence.
"The procedures being done at the visa centres used to be carried out in Qatar soon after the arrival of an expatriate and now it is being done by the QVCs in the country of his origin," said al-Mansouri.
The ambassador pointed out that the QVCs would ensure speedy completion of the process for the issuance of visas and residence permits in Qatar.
"However, these procedures, which are carried out at the QVCs, do not affect the local travel procedures of the expatriate's country," he said.
Al-Mansouri also referred to the Qatari government's decision to increase the number of Pakistani workers, both professional and semi-skilled, to be deployed for infrastructure projects underway in Qatar for the FIFA 2022 World Cup.
While expressing his appreciation for the Pakistani workforce in Qatar, and hailing their participation in the development of the country, al-Mansouri stressed Qatar was providing a very friendly work environment for expats. He also reminded the gathering that the International Labour Organisation has hailed the facilities in Qatar for the expatriate workers from all over the world.
Major Abdullah Khalifa al-Muhannadi said the QVC in Islamabad has come as a part of the MoI plans for launching visa centres abroad for easing the procedures for getting Residence Permit in Qatar.
"By opening the QVCs, we can ensure best practices and customer satisfaction through reducing the time for the completion of the visa process. It could be related to the RP, visa, or recruitment of maids," the official said.
"We have already opened QVCs in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and are going to open similar centres in five other countries shortly. Through the QVCs, those who leave for Qatar for employment, can complete their mandatory medical tests and sign work contracts before their departure and this stands testimony to Qatar's keenness to ensure safety and protection for expatriates," said al-Muhannadi.
Potential work visa applicants will be required to give their biometric data, and undergo medical tests at the QVC, which operates through an integrated electronic system.
The application process for work visa aspirants from Pakistan to Qatar requires them to get a visa reference number from the MoI Qatar. It is followed by seeking an appointment by visiting www.qatarvisacenter.com.
On reaching the QVC, the identity of the visa applicant is verified, the list of required documents checked and a token issued. Upon completion of the process, an applicant can track the status of his application online or through the employer in Qatar.
Located at I-A, I&T Centre, G-6, Islamabad, the QVC operates between 8.30am and 4.30pm from Mondays to Fridays.
Some of the key medical tests to be conducted at the QVC include blood tests, X-ray, visual assessments and physical examinations. The operations are backed by a team of highly qualified healthcare professionals with internal systems and processes based on the latest medical standards and best practices.
Information on scheduling appointment, requirements and procedures at the QVC can be found in English, Urdu and Arabic through a dedicated website (http://www.qatarvisacenter.com), Call Centre Helpline +920 51 843 938 4, e-mail [email protected] and walk-in at the reception.