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The National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis process and how it came about

Overseas Pakistanis are citizens of Pakistan who live outside the country, including citizens who migrated to other countries as well as people of Pakistani descent born abroad. This term is recognised by the Pakistan Government and also refers to residents who have not lived in the country for a specific amount of time.

The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development in Pakistan states that approximately 8.8 million Pakistanis live abroad, with the largest amount of them, over 4.7 million living in the Middle East. The second-largest Pakistani community living outside Pakistan, at 1.2 million people, live in the United Kingdom. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, among other countries, globally Pakistan has the 6th largest diaspora.

 

Calculating these details financially, in 2017, Overseas Pakistanis sent remittances back home amounting to ₨ 2,137 billion (USD 15 billion) according to data gathered by the State Bank of Pakistan.

What is the Government doing to keep a check on these people?

The Pakistan Government created a National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis to keep a check on Pakistanis around the world. This Computerized National Identity Card was issued to workers, emigrants, citizens, or Pakistanis holding dual nationality. The Pakistani passport allows for dual citizenship with certain countries and Pakistan based on a mutual understanding between the two countries.

The idea of NICOP came about in 2002 as a project between the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, the Ministry of Labour and Manpower, and the Ministry of Interior to provide visa-free entry for the people who regularly travelled in and out of Pakistan. It was provided to the people by the joint efforts of the Pakistan Government and the country they were residing overseas in.

The Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment appoints Community Welfare Attache offices globally to establish and maintain close contacts with foreign firms in need of manpower for ventures in various countries, and to aid in the welfare of overseas Pakistanis.

What is the benefit of having a NICOP?

The document allows people living in other countries to make trips to Pakistan without applying for a visa every time they plan a journey. This saves time for people who make regular trips home, without having to keep going through the tedious documentation process. A visa takes a couple of months and needs certain certificates to be sourced, the NICOP is handled once and has a validity of 7 years according to the Pakistan High Commission, allowing for back and forth travel without any hassle. Additionally, people can apply for their NICOP online so they don’t even have to upset their work schedules.

Pakistan also looks after their citizens who are abroad through the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development both ministries of the Pakistan Government overseeing matters concerning Overseas Pakistanis and human resource development in Pakistan. Both these departments are fairly young being established in 2013 and 2008 respectively. For information relating to overseas Bangladeshi citizens and NVR Certificate please click here

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