'Pakistanis leaving US should register'
WASHINGTON, Jan :(IPS):- The Pakistan embassy in Washington has warned Pakistani nationals not to fail to register with American immigration officials while leaving the country.
The failure to do so may prevent them from returning to the United States, the embassy said on Thursday. "The Embassy strongly urges the Pakistani community in the United States to ensure their registration on exit. The community is advised to comply with this requirement even if they have to miss a flight," said the deputy chief of mission, Mohammed Sadiq.
"In the past, unfortunately a lot of Pakistanis had ignored the requirement while exiting from the United States. This had led to a lot of unfortunate incidents where such Pakistanis were denied entry on return to the United States," he said.
The embassy asked Pakistanis to seek advice on registration from the immigration officials if necessary and not to rely on information from the travel industry representatives at ports of exit.
"We have noticed that in most of the cases they themselves are ill-informed," said Mr Sadiq. He also urged Pakistani nationals to get in touch with the Pakistan embassy to seek more information about the process by sending an e-mail to it.
The embassy reminded Pakistani nationals that the US government has started implementing the US VISIT (Visitors & Immigration Status Indicator Technology) programme on all major airports and some seaports from Jan 5, 2004.
In December 2003, the US government announced the suspension of the domestic part of the NSEERS registration program, which meant that all Pakistanis whose 30-day and annual registration deadlines fell after Dec 2, 2003, did not have to report to immigration officers in the United States for registration deadlines.
However, in the first two days of the implementation of the VISIT program, it has become clear that the US authorities could introduce only the entry part of the VISIT programme. The exit part is introduced only on experimental/voluntary basis at a few ports. Thus for Pakistani nationals and other NSEER countries the exit registration remains compulsory. In case of any non-compliance the onus will be on the defaulting individual. ............IPS.