SAARC Immigration Authorities meeting conducted in Islamabad
The seventh meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Immigration Authorities was held on 2 August 2016 in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Usman A. Bajwa, Pakistan’s Director General Immigration and Passports, chaired the meeting.
The meeting aimed at formulating recommendations to be presented in the meetings of Home Secretaries and Interior Ministers meetings.
Key highlights of the meeting
• It reviewed different areas to maximize the potential of visa exemption scheme launched among the member countries in 1992.
• It also planned on development of security software for SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme (SVES) and immigration matters.
• SVES will help in transforming the existing manual system of the scheme into an online visa application system.
• It will have a central database that will provide all member states with real-time and secure information.
About SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme
• The SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme was launched in 1992.
• During the Fourth Summit held in Islamabad in 1988, the leaders decided that certain categories of dignitaries should be entitled to a Special Travel document, which would exempt them from visas within the region.
• As directed by the Summit, the Council of Ministers regularly kept under review the list of entitled categories.
• Currently, the list included 24 categories of entitled persons, which include Dignitaries, Judges of higher courts, Parliamentarians, Senior Officials, Businessmen, Journalists, Sportsmen and so on.
• The Visa Stickers are issued by the respective Member States to the entitled categories of that particular country.
• The validity of the Visa Sticker is generally for one year.
• The implementation is reviewed regularly by the Immigration Authorities of SAARC Member States.