ISLAMABAD - China yesterday announced to open a visa centre in Islamabad to facilitate people-to-people exchange.

The Chinese embassy here said: “In order to further facilitate people-to-people exchanges between China and Pakistan and provide applicants with more comfortable environment and more efficient services, the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan will entrust Chinese Visa Application Service Center in Islamabad (“Visa Center” at the Gerry’s visa drop box) to offer visa and attestation facilitation services May 06, 2019 (today).”

The Visa Center is responsible for handling various consular documents and applications, “including ordinary visas, attestation, Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR visa applications, biometric information collection and collection of attestation fees on behalf of the Chinese Embassy - including express and urgent fees - passport/visa collection and answering applicants’ questions among other services, in line with the requirements of the Chinese Embassy.”

The visa center will be on trial operation from May 6 to May 10. During this period, applicants with ordinary passports can submit their applications to the visa center or the Chinese Embassy.

Diplomats, officials can submit applications directly in the embassy

“If you apply for the Chinese visa at the Visa Center, you need to go to the Visa Center’s website, fill in the application form and make an appointment. The Visa Center will be officially opened on 13 May 2019. After 13 May 2019, the Chinese Embassy will no longer accept ordinary visa, attestation, Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR visa applications. Applicants will have to submit the above-mentioned applications through the Visa Center,” the embassy statement said.

It added: “Those applicants who hold diplomatic or official passports, or who apply for Chinese diplomatic, official, courtesy or talent visas, may submit their applications directly to the Chinese Embassy after filling up application form online and making an appointment at the Chinese Embassy website. The Chinese Embassy will continue to accept applications such as notarization, passport and travel permit applications.”

According to the arrangement of reciprocal exemption of visa fees, the Chinese Embassy does not charge consular fees for visa from Pakistani citizens, it said.

“The Visa Center will charge consular fees for attestation fees including urgent fees payable to the Chinese Embassy. The Visa Center will charge service fees for visa and attestation applications. It will charge optional service fees with mailing service, VIP service and other value added services according to the applicant’s wishes. For the service fee collection, standard and related service details, please consult the Visa Center or contact the Visa Center helpline number, which is mentioned on the Visa Center website.,” the embassy said

It said the Visa Center does not participate in the visa approval process. “Solely the visa officer of the Chinese Embassy has the authority to decide whether to issue the visa or not, as well as the validity period of the visa, the duration of stay and number of entries based on the applicant’s specific circumstances.

The visa officer may request the applicant to provide further supporting documents or supplementary materials as required or request the applicant for a live interview,” the embassy elaborated.

Except for the Visa Center, it said, “The Chinese Embassy has not entrusted other institutions or individuals to act as intermediaries for visa applications and other consular documents. Applicants are advised to handle their relevant information with caution.”