Saudi embassies all over the world have begun taking biometric data of Umrah visa applicants after a new measure became effective from the commencement of the new Hijra year.
The measure was introduced following a decision by the government of Saudi Arabia to ensure that people coming to the country for Haj and Umrah would be safe and secure.
In Pakistan, the Saudi Embassy has instructed all its recognised pilgrim service offices to obtain the biometric data of pilgrims before they apply for visas.
Earlier, the measure was applicable only to pilgrims arriving from a few countries.
In Sweden, the Saudi Embassy was quoted by Al-Hayat Arabic daily as saying that their government had inked contracts with specific international companies to take biometric data of people who apply for entry visas including pilgrims.
A senior official said that biometric centres would be set up in Sweden and would take the place of the existing visa services centres.
The official was quoted by Saudi Gazette as saying that with the early registration of biometric data, the waiting time would be reduced at the immigration counters at Saudi Arabia’s entry points. He added that better service would be ensured to visa applicants with the new system.
Meanwhile, the Civil Status Affairs Department in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has ordered students from Saudi pursuing higher education in foreign universities not to marry foreign women without getting consent from authorities.
Al-Hayat Arabic daily quoting a Saudi government official said that this was also necessary to register children’s names to obtain civil IDs.
Saudi scholarship students were also urged by the department to renew their civil IDs six months prior to their expiry dates. The source said that they must also register their children’s birth at foreign missions of Saudi within one month after their birth. Though the registration is not eligible to be used as a travel document, it can be used to prove the child’s dependency, the source added.
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