Pakistanis can now get Saudi visit visa on arrival

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has introduced one-year multiple entry visit visas for Pakistanis and all other applicants who have a valid UK, US or Schengen visa stamped on their passports, foreign media reported on Sunday.

The new multiple-visa will be valid for one year and the visitors will also be allowed to perform Umrah. However, they are not allowed to perform Haj. Visitors can get visa on arrival at any international airport in Saudi Arabia but they must have a credit card to pay fee amounting to SR440 (Rs18,000) as cash is not accepted. They will be allowed to stay for 90 days at a stretch and can enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia multiple times during the validity period of their visit visa.

“It was an amazing experience when I visited Saudi Arabia last week,” said Ahmed Qureshi who went to perform Umrah with his family and landed at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah. “I paid fee at the immigration counter using my credit card and now all my family members have multiple visit visas valid for one year. It took just 15 minutes to complete the procedure,” he explained.

A reservation agent at the Saudi Airlines in Dubai told a media outlet that the new visa service started last month. “Anyone who has a valid UK, US or Schengen visa can obtain visit visa to Saudi Arabia on arrival. However, visa is issued to only those applicants who have used their US, UK or Schengen visa for at least once. You will not be given visa on arrival if you have US, UK or Schegen visa stamped on your passport but have never used it,” she explained.

One of the pre-conditions to get visit visa on arrival is that the visitors will have to travel on one of the Saudi-based airlines including Saudi Airlines, Flynas or Flydeal. This is mandatory only for first time visitors. Repeat visitors who already hold Saudi visit visa can use any other airline.

For non-muslims, the Saudi Arabia Tourist eVisa is granted for tourism purposes only. Visitors are forbidden from visiting the holy cities of Makkah and Medina. For Muslims, visitors may travel for Umrah on a tourist eVisa outside of Haj season only.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia had opened its doors to the world through its new visit 90-day visa introduced in September last year for more than 50 countries. They are also given one-year multiple visit visa and they have to apply online. Pakistan, India and many other countries are not included in this list.

The tourist e-Visa (which is different from visa on arrival) allows travellers to enter the country for leisure purposes and it enables them to stay in Saudi Arabia for up to 90 days.

The Saudi Arabia tourist e-Visa application process is very simple and 100 per cent online. Once the application is submitted and accepted, the applicant will receive an electronic visa that must be shown to immigration officers upon arrival.

Travellers must have their passport with at least a six-month validity from the date of arrival and have at least one page available for stamping. The Saudi Arabia Tourist e-Visa allows applicants multiple entry in Saudi Arabia and visitors can remain in the country for up to 90 days.