ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia is all set to launch the new host visa with a 90-day validity period that will allow expatriates and citizens to host guests under their personal sponsorship, according to the Saudi Gazette.
The Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat) and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah are carrying out studies about the introduction of the host visa service through the Ministry of Interior’s portal of Absher.
The visa would cost SR500 allowing the Saudi citizen or expat to host from three to five Umrah pilgrims.The report said that Saudi nationals can host anyone while expats were restricted to family members.
Earlier this year in July, Saudi Arabia had decided to allow millions of Umrah pilgrims to travel to other cities in the country, instead of being restricted to Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah. The host visa will allow Pakistanis Umrah goers to avail this opportunity and meet and stay with their family members and friends living in different parts of the kingdom.
According to Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, more than 1.6 million Pakistanis performed Umrah this year alone.
Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.6 million Pakistani expats who have been a vital source of foreign remittances for their country.
Last year, Pakistan received $21.8 billion in remittances out of which $5 billion were remitted by Pakistani nationals working in Saudi Arabia.