Tuesday Sep 24, 2019
KARACHI: Pakistani Hajj and Umrah pilgrims have been asked to submit their biometrics before travel to Saudi Arabia, according to an official press release from the Saudi Arabia Ministry on Tuesday.
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah issued a circular on Massar (https://visa.mofa.gov.sa/account/hajsmartform), stating pilgrims in countries with biometric enrollment centres for Hajj & Umrah, such as Pakistan, must consider completing the mandatory biometric registration locally after obtaining Hajj or Umrah visa.
Registering biometric information before arriving at the entry ports of the Kingdom is recommended to save waiting time at the airports and to facilitate a smooth entrance to Saudi Arabia.
Recently, the Kingdom reported that hundreds of visitors to the country were rejected an entry and sent back from the airport due to not following the correct visa procedures. To avoid such unfortunate incidents, pilgrims must apply the right category of visa through the travel agents registered with the country’s Hajj and Umrah Committees.
It is important to note that the newly introduced tourist e-visa cannot be used to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj or Umrah. It only allows tourists to attend concerts and sporting events happening in the Kingdom. Without the right visa and documentations, pilgrims will encounter fines and/or deportation to the home country.
Talking about the benefits to perform biometrics before travelling for Hajj or Umrah, the official said that it is mandatory to provide biometric information to enter Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Pilgrims face a risk of deportation if proper visa procedures are not followed. Once entire visa formality is completed including enrollment of biometric information, pilgrims can travel with a peace of mind fully focusing on the holy journey ahead of them.
The official said it takes about 10 minutes to register biometrics at the local visa service center with a pre-booked appointment, whereas, the time spent at the airport upon arrival may be longer depending on the long queues at the airports. Once the biometric collection is completed in the country of origin, pilgrims will only be required to clear customs and have their passports stamped at the immigration upon entering Saudi Arabia.
Biometrics in the country of origin are only collected by the visa service center authorised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, using a secure and quick process that captures a facial image with a digital camera and a 10-digit fingerprint scan with a digital finger scanner.
Biometric enrollment can be completed locally before travelling, or upon arrival at the King Abdulaziz International Airport or at the Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport.