ISLAMABAD: The United States (US) consulate in Pakistan’s Karachi said on Tuesday it had expedited the US visa application process for Pakistani applicants and was working to reduce wait times, amid an “unprecedented” demand.
The development comes amid soaring inflation, which clocked in at 27.4 percent year-on-year in August, political unrest and an economic meltdown in Pakistan that have forced people to look for options abroad.
More than 540,000 Pakistanis have left the country till August this year, according to the country’s Emigration & Overseas Employment. Of them, 15,052 were highly qualified individuals and 31,130 highly skilled workers.
The US consulate said the demand for US visas was the highest it had ever been in the South Asian country and it was “working hard” to bring down visa appointment wait times.
“We have expedited thousands of non-immigrant visa appointments. More than ten thousand Pakistani visa applicants originally scheduled for 2024 at the US Consulate General in Karachi are receiving notice that their appointments have been rescheduled in 2023, some as early as next week,” it said in a statement.
“To create added flexibility for Pakistani travelers, visa applicants can rebook appointments at either the Consulate General in Karachi or US Embassy in Islamabad.”
Starting September 25, the US consulate said, it would also start accepting new interview waiver applications for some applicants who had previously been issued US visas. “These steps demonstrate how deeply the United States values the relationship between our two countries,” it added.
The exodus of skilled Pakistani workforce from their country comes amid the rising costs of living, low employment rates, and the devaluation of the local currency that has made it difficult to afford basic necessities.
Many Pakistanis believe there is no immediate solution to the country’s complex economic woes originating from decades of corruption, mismanagement and political instability, and find it better to look for greener pastures abroad.