Emergency Alert
September 17, 2017
Hurricanes Irma and Jose
Emergency Alert
October 2, 2017
Hurricane Maria

International Travel

English

Country Information

Pakistan

Country Information

Pakistan
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Last Updated: November 18, 2016

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all non-essential travel to Pakistan. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated May 22, 2017.

Consular services provided by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, the Consulate General in Karachi,

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all non-essential travel to Pakistan. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated May 22, 2017.

Consular services provided by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, the Consulate General in Karachi, and the Consulate General in Lahore are often limited due to the security environment. At this time, the Consulate General in Peshawar is not providing consular services.

Pakistan continues to experience significant terrorist violence, including sectarian attacks. Targeted attacks against government officials, humanitarian and non-governmental organization (NGO) employees, tribal elders, and law enforcement personnel are common. Throughout Pakistan, foreign and indigenous terrorist groups continue to pose a danger to U.S. citizens. Terrorists have targeted U.S. diplomats and diplomatic facilities in the past, and evidence suggests they continue to do so. Terrorists and criminal groups have resorted to kidnapping for ransom.

The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in major cities, following attacks or in response to threats.

Terrorists continue to target:

  • Heavily guarded facilities, such as military and government installations and airports 
  • Universities, schools, and hospitals
  • Places of worship of various faiths
  • Rallies, public parks, and sports venues
  • Hotels, markets, shopping malls, and restaurants

In Balochistan, insurgent and terrorist groups conducted numerous suicide bombings, hand grenade attacks, and ambushes on Pakistani security forces and civilians over the past six months. A suicide bomber in Quetta targeted senior police officers near Shuhada Chowk, killing 14 people and wounding 30. In Chaman, a suicide bomber attacked a police convoy, killing three police officials and injuring 20 others. Two hand grenade attacks in Gwadar and Mastung injured 41 people. In Quetta, a suicide bomber killed 21 people and wounded 45 in an attack on the Pishin bus terminal. A suicide bomber in Jhal Magsi attacked worshippers at the Sufi shrine of Pir Rakhyal Shah in the Fatehpur area, killing 19 and injuring 30. A suicide bomber in Quetta attacked a police convoy on the Sibbi Road in the Saryab mill area, killing seven and wounding 23.

In Punjab province, three suicide bombings targeting police and military officials in Lahore killed at least 47 and injured more than 100 others.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and the Federally Administered Tribal areas (FATA), there have been numerous recent attacks by insurgent and terrorist groups targeting government officials, NGO/Aid workers, religious minorities, and civilians to include over 67 improvised explosive devices (IED), 148 reported occurrences of small arms fire, 28 known assassination attempts, and 17 kidnappings. Assassination and kidnapping attempts are common throughout these areas. Terrorist organizations operating in the area have not discriminated between government officials and civilians. 

Since May 2017, the following significant attacks have occurred: in Parachinar, an IED targeting the Tori Market killed 67 civilians and injured 75; in Jamrud, an IED attack targeting peace committee workers killed at least five civilians; in Charsadda, at least five IEDs exploded, injuring 14 people; IEDs targeting Peshawar Hospital injured five people; and in Peshawar the detonation of a “toy bomb” killed one child and injured six.

Sectarian violence remains a serious threat throughout Pakistan, and the Government of Pakistan continues to enforce blasphemy laws. Religious minority communities have been victims of targeted killings and accusations of blasphemy. 

The local government restricts access for foreigners to many areas, including:

  • the FATA near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border,
  • Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province,
  • the area adjacent to the Line of Control in the disputed territory of Kashmir,
  • Much of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Balochistan.

Travel by U.S. government personnel within Pakistan is restricted, and movements by U.S. government personnel outside of U.S. diplomatic facilities in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar are sometimes severely restricted depending on local circumstances and security conditions, which can change suddenly.

If you choose to live or travel in Pakistan despite this warning, you should:

  • Vary travel routes and timing, especially for routine trips.
  • Minimize the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, government and military institutions, and other locations.
  • Minimize the number of U.S./western nationals congregating in any one location at any time.
  • Avoid hotels that do not apply stringent security measures.
  • Take a photo of your passport, entry stamp, and Pakistani visa, and keep it with you at all times. Keep digital copies of these documents in a secure, electronically accessible place.

Advisory Notice to Airmen (NOTAM): The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a NOTAM concerning the risks to civil aviation operating in Pakistan, particularly at low altitude, during the arrival and departure phases of flight, and when on the ground, due to extremist/militant activity. The Advisory NOTAM does not prohibit U.S. operators or airmen from operating in the specified area, as it is strictly an advisory notice. 

For background information on FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, see the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Pakistan Country Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier for us to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, located at Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5, Islamabad, Pakistan, by email at ACSIslamabad@state.gov. The after-hours emergency assistance number for U.S. citizens is (92)(51) 201-4000 or (92)(51)201-5000. https://pk.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/islamabad/
  • Contact the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi, located at Plot 3-5 New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road. The after-hours emergency assistance number for U.S. citizens is (92-21) 3527-5000. https://pk.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/karachi/
  • Contact the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore, located at 50, Shahrah-e-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees, (Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Circle. The after-hours emergency assistance number for U.S. citizens is (92-42)3603-4000. https://pk.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/lahore/
  • Contact the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, located at 11 Hospital Road, Peshawar Cantonment, at +92 91 526 8800. (Calling within Pakistan, dial 091 526 8800.) This number is available 24 hours a day for emergencies involving U.S. citizens in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). See also Consulate General Peshawar’s section on the Mission Pakistan webpage: https://pk.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/peshawar/
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook
... [READ MORE]
ALL /
ALL /
Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Six months beyond the date of arrival

 

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

Two blank pages are required for entry and exit stamps

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

Polio vaccination within one year before travel may be required to exit Pakistan.  See Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements below and our Polio Fact Sheet.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

Maximum $5,000

ALL /
ALL /
Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Islamabad

Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Islamabad, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000 or +(92)(51)201-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000

Fax: +(92)(51) 282-2632

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Karachi
Plot 3-5 New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road
Karachi, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000

Fax: +(92)(21) 3561-2420

U.S. Consulate General Lahore
50, Shahrah-e-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees,
(Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Circle,
Lahore, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(42) 3603-4000

Fax: +(92)(42) 3603-4212

U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar
11 Hospital Road, Peshawar Cantt.20

Telephone: +(92)(91) 526-8800

Fax: +(92)(91) 527-6712

For Consular Services, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

ALL /
ALL /
Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Pakistan for information on U.S. - Pakistan relations.

ALL /
ALL /
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Requirements for entry and exit:

  • valid passport
  • valid Pakistani visa

Obtain your visa at a Pakistani Embassy or Consulate prior to initiating travel to Pakistan. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Pakistan cannot assist you with Pakistan visa issues. Visit the Embassy of Pakistan website for the most current visa information.

All U.S. government employees and immediate family members must follow appropriate procedures for official and personal travel to Pakistan. All official U.S. government travel requests must be submitted via the normal country clearance process and will be limited to mission critical travel only. U.S. government employees wishing to conduct unofficial travel to Pakistan must contact the appropriate office in their home agency to determine if there are any limitations or restrictions.

Dual Nationals: Be aware that different visa requirements may apply if you hold U.S. and Pakistani citizenship. For more information see the Embassy of Pakistan’s information regarding National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) and Pakistan Origin Cards (POC).

When you travel to Pakistan, you are subject to the laws of Pakistan. If you travel to Pakistan on NICOP or POC cards, you are considered citizens of Pakistan, which may limit the amount of assistance and communication we can provide should you be arrested.  For more information see Government of Pakistan Directorate General of Immigration and Passports.

You must obtain advance permission from local or federal authorities to travel in:

  • Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)
  • Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK)
  • Province of Azad Jammu Kashmir
  • Province of Balochistan

Operational and personal security policies for official U.S. Government personnel change frequently.

Stay in compliance with Pakistani immigration regulations. If you overstay your visa or violate the terms,  you may be detained, arrested, fined, and/or imprisoned. For further details see the Ministry of Interior website or call +92-51-920-7290.

Keep copies of your U.S. passport data page, Pakistani visa or ID card, and Pakistan immigration entry stamp with you at all times.  Consider downloading these documents to your mobile phone in case of emergency.

Vaccinations: None are required when entering Pakistan from the United States, but proof of Polio vaccination within one year may be required to exit Pakistan. See U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for recommended vaccinations and health tips for travel to Pakistan. For further updates, contact the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, telephone: +92-(0)51-9202566, or email: contact@dra.gov.pk.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Pakistan.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

ALL /
ALL /
Safety and Security

See the Travel Warning for Pakistan.

Terrorist attacks are frequent in Pakistan. Extremist groups within Pakistan continue  to seek opportunities to attack locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit, including government facilities and public locations, such as schools, shopping malls, markets, hotels, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, schools, transportation hubs/stations, minority neighborhoods, and outdoor recreation areas. Terrorists also target Pakistani officials, government facilities, and religious minorities, and regularly resort to kidnapping for ransom. Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military installations and airports. Other actions include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, bombings (including vehicle-borne explosives and improvised explosive devices), assassinations, carjackings, and assaults. The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in major cities, and these measures can vary from day to day.

Demonstrations, political rallies or large religious gatherings intended to be peaceful can become confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. We advise U.S. citizens to avoid areas where large crowds of any kind gather. During demonstrations or periods of civil unrest, the Pakistani government has in the past disabled cellular telephone and internet service, making it difficult for individuals to contact each other or the U.S. Embassy or Consulates.

We recommend you limit the frequency of travel and minimize the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other public locations. We advise against the use of public transportation in Pakistan. You are strongly urged to avoid hotels that do not apply stringent security measures. Official visitors are not authorized to stay overnight in local hotels anywhere in the country. Depending on ongoing security assessments, the U.S. Mission sometimes places areas such as tourist attractions, hotels, markets, shopping malls, and restaurants off-limits to official personnel. 

Threats to civil aviation in Pakistan are not limited to attacks where militants target airports. The U.S. government is aware of narcotics smuggled onto flights from Pakistan, which may indicate broader security vulnerabilities at Pakistani airports.

We recommend you follow media coverage of local events, and maintain good situational awareness and operational security wherever you travel in Pakistan. If you feel that your life is in danger in Pakistan, we advise you to report the threat to local police authorities and consider immediately changing locations or departing Pakistan.

CRIME:

Men and women are advised to dress conservatively, with arms and legs covered, and to avoid walking alone. We recommend against travel on the streets late at night.  Urban crime can be organized or opportunistic, conducted by individuals or groups, and can include fraud, theft, robbery, carjacking, rape, assault, and burglary. Incidents of crime and levels of violence are higher in low-income residential and congested commercial areas, but are seen in wealthier areas as well. Pick-pocketing, theft and larceny are common on buses and trains at all hours of the day.

Take precautions to avoid crime, including:

  • locking home and vehicle doors
  • hiring a 24-hour guard
  • varying routes and schedules
  • keeping bags or valuables under your legs away from passing vehicle traffic, and ensuring that bag straps are not visible
  • traveling in groups
  • being accompanied by a native Urdu speaker if you travel outside urban areas
  • carrying your mobile phone

If you are assaulted, do not fight with your attacker. Flee to a safe area and report the situation to the local authorities by going directly to a police station or dialing 15.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

U.S. citizen victims of crime should first report the offense to local police by dialing 15, and then contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Police responsiveness varies widely and crimes often go unsolved or unprosecuted. Dual U.S-Pakistani nationals may not be recognized as U.S. citizens by the local authorities.

We often receive reports of U.S. citizens subjected to domestic violence, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and forced marriage in Pakistan.  There are also cases of individuals having their own and their children’s passports confiscated by spouses, parents, or other family members, and their freedom of movement severely restricted. Local police are not consistently responsive to reports of such cases. Nonetheless, if you find yourself in a life-threatening situation, you are encouraged to call the police immediately, and follow up with a call to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. We can sometimes connect you with a Pakistani non-governmental organization that may be able to provide assistance. If you are victimized overseas, you may be entitled to receive compensation for counseling and/or other services such as relocation back to the U.S. For further information, visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime committed in Pakistan.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a lost, stolen, or confiscated passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or Consulates in Karachi or Lahore for assistance.

For further information:

ALL /
ALL /
Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. The U.S. government may not act to circumvent local authorities or advocate for particular outcomes on the behalf of private individuals. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates cannot offer “safe haven.”

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings or structures, particularly sensitive places like military installations and nuclear sites, but the law on this subject is vague and applied inconsistently.  

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail, and result in severe penalties.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Pakistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences in local prisons and heavy fines.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately to ensure we are aware of your circumstances and can provide assistance. See our webpage for further information. Pakistani law enforcement authorities will typically not notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate if a foreign citizen is arrested or detained, unless you request they do so. Pakistan’s regulations governing the travel of foreign diplomats and the procedures for gaining access to arrested individuals have delayed consular access in the past. In some cases, a Consular officer may not be able to visit due to security-related travel restrictions.

Currency:

  • Pakistan is largely a cash economy. Neither personal checks or travelers’ checks are commonly accepted in Pakistan.
  • Outside major cities, credit cards are generally not accepted, and there have been numerous reports of credit card fraud.
  • There are bank branches as well as registered currency exchangers and ATMs in all international airports. 

Forced Marriage: There are reports of U.S. citizen women of Pakistani heritage being tricked into traveling to Pakistan by their families and being forced into marriage. The U.S. government considers forced marriage to be a violation of basic human rights and in the case of minors, a form of child abuse. Forced marriage is defined as one in which one or both parties have not consented to the marriage (or are incapable of providing meaningful consent), and differs from arranged marriage. International laws and conventions support minimum ages for marriage and the individual’s right to choice in marriage. Pakistani civil law – as well as Sharia law - requires the consent of both parties for a legitimate marriage. Often, victims of forced marriage are subjected to non-consensual sex, physical and emotional abuse, isolation, and threats of violence. Persons who refuse a forced marriage are sometimes threatened with violence and being disowned from their families, who also often confiscate their belongings (including passports). In such situations, we may be able to replace stolen or wrongfully retained passports and identify resources for return travel to the United States. All U.S. citizens who fear for their safety or freedom to travel should ensure personal possession of important documents such as passports. Additionally, taking photos of items like Pakistani visas and entry stamps can often speed the process to replace such documents.

Property Disputes: Some U.S. citizens have been kidnapped, assaulted, or threatened by family members in response to family disputes over property.  Land disputes are common in Pakistan and are often difficult to resolve through legal channels. The U.S. Embassy cannot protect personal property and cannot take sides in a legal dispute. U.S. citizens wishing to purchase property should be aware of the risks, including not being physically present to oversee property. Those involved in a court dispute run the risk of having cases filed against them, and they may be arrested and jailed.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual conduct is a criminal offense in Pakistan. While the government rarely prosecutes cases, society generally shuns LGBTI persons, and violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons occurs frequently.

The penalty for same-sex relations is a fine, imprisonment (sentences ranging from two years to life imprisonment), or both. No laws protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons rarely reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information and section 6 of the Department of State’s Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. While in Pakistan, individuals with disabilities can find accessibility and accommodation difficult. The law provides for equality of the rights of persons with disabilities, but the legal provisions are not always implemented in practice. Families typically care for most individuals with physical and mental disabilities.

Access for individuals with physical disabilities to public facilities is very limited in major cities and almost non-existent outside major population centers.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Adventure Travel: Pakistan’s mountains and glaciers make it a tempting destination for adventure enthusiasts. Despite the best efforts of local authorities, assisting visitors lost or injured in such remote areas can be difficult. In recent years, several U.S. citizens, including expert climbers, have lost their lives while climbing in the Karakoram mountain range, where rescue missions are often difficult or impossible to execute. Costs for emergency rescues start at $15,000 and payment is required prior to commencement of a search operation.  

 

ALL /
ALL /
Health

Basic medical care is available in major Pakistani cities but is limited in rural areas. Facilities in cities vary in quality and range of services, and may be below U.S. standards; facilities in rural areas are consistently below U.S. standards.  Medical facilities require prepayment for services and most do not accept credit cards.

Effective emergency response to personal injury and illness is virtually non-existent in most of Pakistan. Ambulances are few, lack medical equipment, and are not necessarily staffed by medical personnel. Bring sufficient supplies of prescription and commonly used over-the-counter medications. Many U.S. -brand medications are not available, there is a high incidence of fake pharmaceuticals, and the quality of locally-produced medications is uneven. 

See the CDC website detailing recommended vaccinations and other health precautions for traveling to Pakistan. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

Water is not potable anywhere in Pakistan, and sanitation in most restaurants is inadequate. Stomach illnesses are common.

Despite Pakistan being a generally conservative country, there is a risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other communicable diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV. Travelers are urged to use the same cautionary and protective health measures they would in their own country.

We do not pay medical bills for U.S. citizens in Pakistan. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not cover services or medication provided overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides overseas coverage. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation. If you plan to engage in high-risk outdoor activities while in Pakistan, it is essential that you engage the services of a travel risk and crisis management provider.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Pakistan to ensure the medication is legal in Pakistan. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

ALL /
ALL /
Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: While in Pakistan, you will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below about Pakistan is provided for general reference only, and it might vary in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic Laws: Traffic in Pakistan moves on the left; the opposite of U.S. traffic. Roads are crowded, drivers are often aggressive and poorly trained, and many vehicles, particularly large trucks and buses, are badly maintained  Local drivers are willing to drive head-on in your lane of traffic if they believe it helps them get to their destination more rapidly. Animals, horse carts, bicyclists, and pedestrians can pose roadside hazards in some areas. Roads, including most major highways, also suffer from poor maintenance and often have numerous potholes, sharp drop-offs, and barriers that are not sign-posted. Drivers should exercise extreme caution when traveling at night by road, since many vehicles do not have working headlights or dimmers, and many  roads are not illuminated or signed. We recommend against driving without experienced local drivers or guides.

Public Transportation: Avoid all trains, taxis, and other forms of public transportation. For security reasons, U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from using all forms of public transportation. See the Safety and Security section above.

See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of Pakistan’s national tourist office and Pakistan’s national highway authority.

The U. S. Embassy has restricted U. S. Government personnel from travel on certain Pakistani military aircraft due to issues with safety and maintenance histories. The Embassy advises U.S. citizens planning to travel within Pakistan on such official aircraft to exercise caution, verify the airworthiness of aircraft in planned flights, or to avoid this means of conveyance until such verification can be provided.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Pakistan’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
ALL /
ALL /
Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Islamabad

Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Islamabad, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000 or +(92)(51)201-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000

Fax: +(92)(51) 282-2632

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Karachi
Plot 3-5 New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road
Karachi, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000

Fax: +(92)(21) 3561-2420

U.S. Consulate General Lahore
50, Shahrah-e-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees,
(Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Circle,
Lahore, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(42) 3603-4000

Fax: +(92)(42) 3603-4212

U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar
11 Hospital Road, Peshawar Cantt.20

Telephone: +(92)(91) 526-8800

Fax: +(92)(91) 527-6712

For Consular Services, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

ALL /
ALL /
General Information

 

For information concerning travel to Pakistan, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see Pakistan country-specific information.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA). The report is located here.

 

 

 

ALL /
ALL /
Hague Abduction Convention

ALL /
ALL /
Return

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country. The government of Pakistan maintains information about custody, visitation, and family law.

Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Pakistan and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children's Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children's Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Website
Email: AskCI@state.gov

Parental abduction is a crime in Pakistan within limited parameters.  For information about Pakistani laws regarding parental abduction, please consult an attorney in Pakistan. 

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see Possible Solutions - Pressing Criminal Charges for more information. 

ALL /
ALL /
Visitation/Access

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Pakistan and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children's Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.   Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Pakistan for information and possible assistance 

ALL /
ALL /
Retaining an Attorney

Neither the Office of Children's Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Pakistan are authorized to provide legal advice.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, and the U.S. Consulates in Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan, each post a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law at:

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

ALL /
ALL /
Mediation

Mediation may be available for abduction cases.  Pakistan shares the chairmanship of the Working Party on Mediation in the context of the Malta Process, which is part of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.  If you are interested in learning more about mediation options, the central point of contact for international family mediation in Pakistan may be reached at:

Office of International Cooperation of International Family Law
Room No 313 "S" Block
M/o Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs,
Pak Secretariat,
Islamabad
Pakistan
Tel.: 051-9203053
contact@molaw.gov.pk

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
ALL /
ALL /
Hague Convention Information

Pakistan is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section  204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F). Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention or “orphan” cases. The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider acts as a primary provider in every case, and that adoption service providers providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information. The intercountry adoption of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600. However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the USCIS website on the impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications under the UAA, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.

Adopting a child in Pakistan can be a long, difficult, and legally-complex process. The Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 governs the rights and interests of minors in Pakistan. Pakistani law and Islamic Shari’a law, upon which Pakistan family law is largely based, does not allow for adoptions of Pakistani children in Pakistan. According to Pakistan's laws, prospective adoptive parents who are non-Muslim may not be appointed guardians of Muslim children, and non-Christians may not be appointed guardians of Christian children. Children abandoned at an Islamic orphanage are deemed Muslim unless there is evidence to the contrary.

U. S. citizens considering adoption of a Pakistani child must obtain guardianship for emigration and adoption in the United States from the Family Court that has jurisdiction over the prospective adoptive child’s place of residence.  In order for the child to be eligible to receive an immigrant visa, the guardianship order must specifically give permission for the child to emigrate and be adopted in another country.  Prospective adoptive parents should refer to our information sheet on Adoption of Children from Countries in which Islamic Shari'a Law is observed for more information.

Prospective adoptive parents should exercise caution and are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use. Prospective adoptive parents may be targets for unscrupulous lawyers or adoption agencies that may not be able to deliver on their promises.  Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy Islamabad’s consular section by email at AdoptionsPakistan@state.gov, or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) National Benefits Center at NBC.Adoptions@dhs.gov, before applying for guardianship of a child to ensure that proper procedures have been followed.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring a child you have obtained guardianship of to the United States from Pakistan, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States from Pakistan on an IR-4 immigrant visa.

ALL /
ALL /
Who Can Adopt

Pakistan has no statute that provides for the adoption of children; thus there is no law setting forth age, residency, or marriage requirements. In general, adoptions are a community matter in Pakistan. People often opt for informal adoptions according to their faith, outside the Family Courts. Such informal adoptions do not meet the criteria set forth in the U.S. law for the issuance of an immigration visa to an adopted child. Prospective adoptive parents must comply with U.S. legal requirements in the I-600 process and applicable provisions of the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 in Pakistan.

ALL /
ALL /
Who Can Be Adopted

If you have a particular child for adoption in mind—especially a relative—you may wish to consult a lawyer or USCIS to assist you in determining whether the child meets the definition of orphan in U.S. law before proceeding.

Please note that in order for a child to meet the definition of orphanunder U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600 petition must be filed while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if adopted or to be adopted together with a sibling under the age of 16).

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.

ALL /
ALL /
How to Adopt

Pakistan’s Adoption Authority
Pakistan does not have a central government adoption authority. Guardianship proceedings are handled by the Family Courts.

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Pakistan generally includes the following steps:

  1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child
  4. Gain legal custody of the child in Pakistan
  5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
  6. Bring your child home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Pakistan is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.

There are no adoption agencies in Pakistan. A list of attorneys is available to prospective adoptive parents on the U.S. Embassy Islamabad’s website.

2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from Pakistan, you will need to meet the requirements of both Pakistan law and U.S. immigration law.

To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt. As of July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, the home study must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311 and 22 CFR Part 96.47.

3. Be Matched with a Child

Pakistani law requires that an orphanage be licensed under the relevant local laws. In addition, Pakistani law requires that guardianship of a Pakistani child be appointed by the competent authority (i.e., the family court having jurisdiction) in compliance with local laws. Fulfilment of these legal requirements may be used to initiate the filing of a Form I-600 petition on behalf of a Pakistani child as an orphan under U.S. immigration law.

The child must be eligible for guardianship according Pakistan’s requirements, as described in the “Who Can Be Adopted” section above. The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law.

4. Gain Legal Custody of the Child in Pakistan

The process for gaining legal custody in Pakistan includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: Pakistan does not have a central government adoption authority.
  • Role of Licensed Orphanages: Once prospective adoptive parents have identified a child through a licensed orphanage, the orphanage provides the prospective adoptive parents with a letter describing the identity and social history of the child. The prospective adoptive parents or their attorney in Pakistan can file an application for guardianship in Family Court with this letter.
  • Role of the Court: Family Courts have jurisdiction over the guardianship of children. If the Family Court grants the prospective adoptive parents guardianship, it will issue a record of the proceedings, a guardianship order, and a guardianship certificate. The certificate must state that guardianship is granted for purposes of immigration to and adoption in the United States.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no adoption agencies in Pakistan.
  • Adoption Application: There is no adoption application. Prospective adoptive parents petition the Family Court for guardianship of a specific child.
  • Role of Lawyers: Attorneys assist prospective adoptive parents with understanding the process for obtaining guardianship of a Pakistani child through the Family Court, file the prospective adoptive parents’ petition for guardianship with the Family Court, and obtain final court documents. A list of attorneys is available on the U.S. Embassy’s website.
  • Time Frame: It is difficult to estimate how long it will take for prospective adoptive parents to obtain guardianship of a child through the Family Court.
  • Adoption Fees: Fees vary widely and may include lawyer’s fees, court fees, expedite fees, charges for court documents, etc. The UAA and Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.
  • Documents Required: The following documents are required to complete the adoption process:
    • Proof of U.S. citizenship of the prospective adoptive parents;
    • Proof of marriage of the prospective adoptive parents, if married; if the prospective adoptive parent is divorced, proof of the termination of all previous marriages;
    • Fingerprint cards for the prospective adoptive parents and all other adult members of the prospective adoptive parents’ household;
    • Approved home-study report.
  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State’s Authentications Office may be able to assist.

Caution: Pakistani documents on rupee paper and documents notarized by a lawyer are not considered official documents. The Embassy will only accept original or court certified documents related to guardianships in Pakistan.

Obtaining fraudulent documents is against the law in Pakistan.

5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status

After you gain legal custody in Pakistan, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

You must have an approved Form I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative before an immigrant visa may be issued. You may file your Form I-600 petition in the U.S. or at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad provided you have a valid, approved I-600A on record.

6. Bring Your Child Home

Once you have obtained legal custody of the child, you will need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:

Birth Certificate
If you have gained legal custody of the child in Pakistan, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate, referred to as the Child Registration Certificate (CRC), for your child.

You should take your guardianship certificate (issued by the Family Court) to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to amend your child's Form B, listing you as the parents. You may apply for a Pakistani passport for your child with the amended form and your guardianship certificate. Please refer to the information on how to obtain a new CRC for your child. Please note that you will also need to submit the child’s original birth certificate showing the names of the biological parents (if identified) to the Immigrant Visa Unit when you apply for the immigrant visa.

Pakistani Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Pakistan.

Information on how to apply for a Pakistan passport for your child may be found at.

U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child. At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies or if your case is UAA grandfathered. For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider in your case and the adjudicating officer may ask for the name and contact information of the primary provider if not provided in your Form I-600 petition. This information is required and, without it, your Form I-600 petition cannot be approved.

You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy Islamabad’s website.

Prospective adoptive parents who plan to file their Form I-600 with the U.S. Embassy Islamabad should contact the consular section by email at AdoptionsPakistan@state.gov to confirm that they have a valid approved Form I-600A on record and to make an appointment to file Form I-600 and supporting documents.

Prospective adoptive parents are reminded that consular officers are required by law to conduct a Form I-604 Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as the “orphan investigation”) to verify the child's orphan status before an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa may be issued. In light of the security situation in Pakistan, it can take six months or more to complete an orphan investigation, even if the Form I-600 petition is already approved. Cases in which a child’s orphan status cannot be confirmed must be forwarded to USCIS for review and final determination. Prospective adoptive parents should have flexible travel plans if they plan to remain in Pakistan until the Form I-604 is completed.

Once the consular section receives the family’s approved Form I-600 petition, staff will contact the family by email concerning their next steps. Immigrant visa applicants must complete a series of forms – details of which will be provided to the prospective adoptive parents by the consular section – before the immigrant visa interview may take place. Once the prospective adoptive parents have compiled all of the documents required for the immigrant visa interview, they must email the consular section at AdoptionsPakistan@state.gov to schedule their child’s immigrant visa appointment. A consular officer conducts the interview and, if the visa application is approved, issues the visa. A consular officer must see the adopted child in person before the immigrant visa may be issued and the biological parents may also be asked to appear at the consular section to verify the terms of the guardianship arrangement.

Note: Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes at least 24 working hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should not make final travel arrangements before they receive the visa.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible.  Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

ALL /
ALL /
Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Pakistan
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Pakistan, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Caution: If your Pakistani visa expires while you are in Pakistan it will be very difficult to exit.

Also, if you lose your passport it will be very difficult to leave Pakistan, even with a replacement U.S. passport, as the Government of Pakistan requires all passengers to show the visa or NICOB they used to enter Pakistan at the time of departure. We strongly recommend making copies of your passport and Pakistani visa. When you arrive, we suggest that you make a copy of the entry stamp, and send these copies to your email address.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
We recommend you investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of Pakistan before you arrive. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling to Pakistan, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Pakistan, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

ALL /
ALL /
After Adoption

What does Pakistan require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
The Family Law Court may ask the adoptive parents to bring the child back to Pakistan upon request. Please consult with your lawyer for further information.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

ALL /
ALL /
Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: +92 51 208 0000
Fax: +92 51 262 3673
Email: AdoptionsPakistan@state.gov
Internet: https://pk.usembassy.gov/

National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)
NADRA State Bank of Pakistan Bldg.
Shahrah-i-Jamhuriat, G-5/2
Islamabad – 44000
Tel: +92 51 111 786 1000

Embassy of Pakistan
3517 International Court, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20008
Tel: (202)243-6500
Email: info@imbassyofpakistanusa.org
Internet: pakistan-embassy.org

*Pakistan also has consulates in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston and Boston.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI, SA-17A, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: adoption@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet:  uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email:  NBC.Adoptions@dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 24 Months
A-2 None Multiple 24 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 12 Months
B-1 None Multiple 60 Months
B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 24 Months
G-2 None Multiple 24 Months
G-3 None Multiple 24 Months
G-4 None Multiple 24 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 12 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None N/A N/A 3
H-2B None N/A N/A 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 24 Months
N-9 None Multiple 24 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 48 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 48 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 48 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 48 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 48 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 48 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 48 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 36 Months
R-2 None Multiple 36 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
ALL /
ALL /
Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

ALL /
ALL /
Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

ALL /
ALL /
General Documents

Prior to 1961, in large cities, Municipal Corporations were registering births and deaths, but in 1961 the Muslim Family Law Ordinance (MFLO) was passed to formalize the marriages and divorces as well. Municipal Corporation records in big cities are still available but it is sometimes difficult to locate them, and the condition of these records is not good. After 1961, the Government began regulating the provision of some documents, but different offices were responsible for different documents, and implementation of regulations was inconsistent. In 1998, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) was created to develop a database for registering the citizens of Pakistan. NADRA-issued identity cards, birth and death certificates, and marriage and divorce certificates are now available. However, NADRA is only responsible for the computerized database used to register records; they are not responsible for the records themselves. Union Councils, Municipal Corporations, Directors of Health Services, and other local organizations are responsible for the actual records.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available for a fee, which varies by location and depending on whether a NADRA or Union Council birth certificate is requested. In larger cities, such as Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi, Municipal Corporations issued birth certificates prior to 2001. Birth certificates for older Pakistanis, particularly those born before partition in 1947, are often unavailable. These Pakistanis may present a "No Entry Certificate" issued by the Municipal Corporation or a late-registered birth certificate. Almost all records of vital statistics of the Karachi Municipality were burned in 1948.

Even today, birth records are not uniformly kept, particularly in rural areas. Where a record of birth exists, a certificate to that effect may be obtained from the Registrar of Births and Deaths, the Municipal Corporation, or the Union Council. Caution should be used, however, in accepting such certificates, since they frequently do not match the original ledgers.

Births are supposed to be registered with the Union Council within two months. Informants go to the Union Council, fill out a form, and provide their identification. The process for late registration is more complex, requiring two affidavits and the presentation of the child to the District Health Officer (DHO). The DHO then issues a letter to the concerned Union Council authorizing the late entry. Once this process has been completed, the informant can go to the Union Council for registration. Registrants can request the birth certificate on either the Union Council form, which varies from area to area and can be provided on the same day, or the NADRA form, which is uniform and usually provided in a few days. Both forms should bear a stamp and signature by the Union Council Secretary.

In lieu of a birth certificate, Pakistanis often use school records attested by the headmaster or principal of the school or matriculation certificates, both of which identify the father and the date of birth. "B" Forms, which are family registration forms listing all family members, are also available toshow family relationships. These documents are issued by NADRA, though pre-NADRA versions are sometimes available as well.

Death Certificates

Available for a fee. Records of deaths are inconsistent because most people only request one when required for a specific reason. There is no required timeframe in which to report a death. Where the death is recorded, a certificate can be obtained from the Registrar of Births and Deaths of the Municipality or the Union Council. Cantonment Boards in urban areas are also authorized to issue death certificates. In locations where a proper graveyard system exists, local authorities accept the graveyard receipt as proof of death. A death certificate issued by a hospital is also acceptable as proof. As with birth certificates, caution should be used in accepting such documents as authentic because Union Council Secretaries and other officials who document deaths may issue a certificate with little or no evidence. Union Councils will issue NADRA death certificates if requested. If the deceased died in a hospital or had a long illness prior to death, hospital and medical records can provide corroborating evidence of death.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

The marriage certificate for Muslims is the Nikah Nama. At the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom, their representatives, at least two witnesses, and the Nikah Nama officiator sign this document. There are four original copies of the Nikah Nama, which are then given to the Nikah Registrar, who is often also the officiator. The Municipality, Panchayat Committee, Cantonment Board, or Union Council appoints registrars. The Registrar should sign and stamp each original and submit the first copy (noted as such on top of the form) for registration with the Union Council, while the second and third copies are provided to the bride and groom. The Registrar should keep the fourth copy. The Nikah Registrar should register the marriage within two months, but this does not always occur. The Registrar must pay a fee for registration, which is generally obtained from the groom at the time of the Nikah ceremony. The date of registration should be entered on line 24 of the Nikah. It is not unusual for the registration date to be missing from the Nikah. The NADRA marriage certificate can provide further proof of registration. For immigration purposes, the Nikah must be registered.

The original Nikah Nama is usually in Urdu and is required for consular processing of immigrant visas. The NADRA marriage certificate is not an acceptable substitute for the Nikah Nama. Attested translations of the Nikah Nama should be provided. In some larger jurisdictions, such as Karachi and Lahore, an original English Nikah Nama may be given upon request.

Marriage certificates for religious minorities (Christians, Hindus, Parsis) are issued by church or temple leaders and are not generally registered with local authorities. The internal procedures for marriage documentation vary between institutions and denominations. Christian marriages can be made a matter of civil record with subsequent preparation of registrar certificates witnessed by magistrates under the Christian Marriage Act of 1892, though this procedure is rarely followed.

Many foreign embassies require wedding photographs and video in addition to the Nikah Nama or marriage certificate as proof of marriage.

Divorce Certificates

Available. Muslim Pakistani divorce laws, governed by the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance (MFLO), are complicated and must be followed for divorces to be recognized for immigration purposes.

In Azad Kashmir, the "bare Talaq" (uncontestable verbal pronouncement of divorce by the husband) is still permitted. Some foreign embassies and Pakistani legal authorities question the validity of the bare Talaq if the wife resides outside Azad Kashmir and contests such a divorce under the laws prevailing in other areas of Pakistan. While there may be no documentation of a divorce in Azad Kashmir, the Tehsil or District Mufti will give a certificate upon request stating the details of the divorce. These details are provided by the interested parties. While some District Muftis will keep copies of these certificates, there is no requirement for this, nor will there be any other record of these divorces.

In Pakistan (apart from Azad Kashmir), divorce is subject to arbitration, and the process of divorce differs depending on whether it is initiated by the husband (Talaq), or the wife (Khula). A husband can go directly to the Union Council to initiate a divorce. Unless the wife grants permission otherwise, the divorce must occur in the district where she resides at the time of divorce. The Union Council registers the divorce and initiates the Arbitration Council, which normally consists of two representatives from each party. The chairman of the Arbitration Council is normally the administrator of the Union Council. Each month for three months, the Union Council sends arbitration notices to the parties for attempts at reconciliation. After three months, either party may request a failure of reconciliation certificate from the Union Council/Arbitration Council. This divorce certificate means the divorce is effective and either party may remarry.

There are two possible procedures to obtain a Khula divorce. A husband can grant his wife the right of divorce by stating "yes" on line 18 of the Nikah Nama (which is rare). If this right is granted, the wife follows the same procedure as for the Talaq above. If the wife is not granted this right, she must first go to Family Court to request the right to initiate a divorce. If the suit is successful, the Family Court is required to submit their decision to the Union Council within seven days. The Union Council will then initiate the Arbitration Council and follow the same arbitration procedures as above. In reality, the Family Court often does not inform the Union Council of their decision. Often, the court order will actually state that the divorce is granted. However, to finalize the divorce under the MFLO, if the court does not notify the Union Council, the wife must do so herself. Once the wife notifies the Union Council, the same procedure as for Talaq is followed, but if the parties reconcile during the arbitration process, the court decision will be null and void.

A divorce in Pakistan is not effective and neither party may remarry until 90 days after the divorce has been announced to the Arbitration Council. The Union Council divorce certificate will indicate if the divorce was a Talaq or Khula. A handwritten divorce certificate is issued by the Union Council. NADRA began issuing divorce certificates a few years ago, but if a NADRA divorce certificate is provided for an older divorce, the original Union Council certificate should also be provided. The specific form for the Union Council certificate will vary by location. In all cases, copies of the arbitration notices should be available upon request.

As with adoption documents, Pakistanis often obtain "divorce deeds" on "rupee paper". Such documentation of divorce is not valid for immigration purposes. The legal procedures above must be followed for the divorce to be valid.

Where a divorce has been granted by a civil court, as in the case of Christians, copies of the orders may be obtained from the court.

Adoption Certificates

Adoption Records

Unavailable. Islamic law, and as a result, Pakistani law, does not recognize adoption. Pakistanis often obtain various documents identified as "adoption deeds". One common format is an "adoption deed" written on "rupee paper" and signed by the biological and "adoptive" parents. As adoptions are not recognized in Pakistan, and "rupee paper" is not a legal document, these documents are not evidence of a legal adoption and as such are not acceptable for immigration purposes. Even court documents claiming that a child has been adopted are not acceptable. Family courts, in an attempt to assist those who agree to care for the children of others, may state in the orders that an adoption has occurred, but this is not a legal adoption acceptable for immigration purposes. At best, the court can grant guardianship of a child to a non-parental adult. While such an order may be acceptable for an IR-4 visa if the child meets other qualifications, this order is not sufficient for immigration under other family-based visa categories.

Due to the complicated nature of cases involving adults caring for non-biological children, those wishing to take such children to the U.S. or those wishing to take children to the U.S. for purposes of finalizing adoptions should first contact an immigration attorney or the U.S. Embassy for more information.

ALL /
ALL /
Identity Card

Pakistan issues identity cards to citizens at age 18 for a fee. These are required of adults in order to vote or to obtain driver's licenses and passports. The NADRA identity cards include the father or husband's name, date of birth, gender, address, identification number (old and current), family number, as well as some biometrics. Some new cards also include an electronic chip. The identity cards are issued by NADRA when an applicant fills out the proper form and submits their birth certificate. NADRA also accepts "B" Forms or school records as proof of identity to issue the card. National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP, for Pakistanis working overseas) and Pakistani Origin Cards (POC, for Pakistanis having other nationalities after surrendering Pakistani Nationality) are also issued by NADRA. The holder of a POC doesn't need a visa to come to Pakistan, but they need to have their valid passport in addition to the POC.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Not available. Pakistan has no nationwide tracking system in place for criminal activities. Police Character Certificates are available for a fee from District Coordinating Offices. However, they are not an accurate reflection of an individual's criminal record. An applicant who has committed a crime in one district may be able to obtain a clean Character Certificate from that district or another. Given the inaccuracy of these certificates, they are not required for consular processing.

Court Records

Available for a fee. Records of court proceedings can be requested and obtained through the appropriate court.

Prison Records

Not available to individuals. Prison records will be issued only in response to an official request, made through the Ministry of Interior, to the Inspector General of Prisons in the district where the prison is located.

Military Records

Some military records may be available. Current and former military personnel should be able to provide their service book, which is issued to all service personnel and contains biographical information, rank, and retirement information. Some personnel are able to obtain records related to their assignments though there is no uniform method through which this information is received.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Available for a fee, which varies depending on the number of pages in the passport and whether the passport application is expedited or processed normally. The validity of the passport was five years but, starting November 1, 2012, passports are now valid for ten years. The Government of Pakistan issues three types of travel documents in the form of passports (ordinary, official, and diplomatic). Passports are printed by NADRA but issued by the Ministry of Interior. Travel documents may not be available for refugees or stateless persons.

Diplomatic Passports (red cover): Issued to ambassadors, career diplomats, heads of state and government and federal ministers.

Official Passports (blue cover): Issued to members of the National Assembly and their immediate family members, high-ranking civil service personnel, and military personnel traveling on official business.

Ordinary Passports (green cover): Issued to any qualifying citizen of Pakistan for private travel. Normally valid for travel to all countries of the world except Israel. Older passports will be valid for all countries except Israel, India and/or South Africa.

Pakistani names are subject to a variety of combinations with no established surname rule. Individuals may change their names by simply announcing name changes in the newspaper. For older persons and those born in rural areas, frequently only the year of birth is available. It is not uncommon for birth dates to be changed. The essential element of identity is generally the name of the father and, in the case of a married woman, the name of the husband. Adherence to standards of proof of identification for these passport entries can be lax.

Other Records

Not applicable

Visa Issuing Posts

Islamabad, Pakistan (Embassy)

All categories, serves Pakistan and some citizens from Afghanistan, particularly those who are resident in Pakistan.

Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5

Karachi (Consulate)

U.S. Consulate General
Plot 3, 4, 5, New TPX Area
Mai Kolachi Road
Karachi, Pakistan

Visa Inquiries: (+92-21) 111-234-111
Monday - Friday, 8 AM to 8 PM

General Telephone: (+92-21) 3520-4200
Fax: (+92-21) 3568-0496

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Visa Services

Islamabad is the only location for immigrant visa processing in Pakistan. Lahore offers no visa processing. Islamabad also processes refugee and asylee follow-to-join beneficiaries for Afghanistan.

In addition, Karachi services non-immigrant visa travelers living in Sindh and Balochistan provinces. Applications must be submitted through the American Express Travel Office in Karachi.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 349-3177 (202) 686-1534

Chicago, IL (312) 781-1831 (312) 781-1838 (312)-781-1839

Houston, TX (281) 894-6605 (281) 890-1433

Los Angeles, CA (310) 441-5114 (310) 441-9256

New York, NY (212) 879-5800 (212) 517-6987

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Islamabad
Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5 Islamabad, Pakistan
Telephone
+(92)(51) 201-4000 or +(92)(51)201-5000
Emergency
+(92)(51) 201-4000
Fax
+(92)(51) 282-2632
Pakistan Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

Pakistan
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
ALL /
ALL /
Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Six months beyond the date of arrival

 

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

Two blank pages are required for entry and exit stamps

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

Polio vaccination within one year before travel may be required to exit Pakistan.  See Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements below and our Polio Fact Sheet.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

Maximum $5,000

ALL /
ALL /
Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Islamabad

Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Islamabad, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000 or +(92)(51)201-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000

Fax: +(92)(51) 282-2632

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Karachi
Plot 3-5 New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road
Karachi, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000

Fax: +(92)(21) 3561-2420

U.S. Consulate General Lahore
50, Shahrah-e-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees,
(Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Circle,
Lahore, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(42) 3603-4000

Fax: +(92)(42) 3603-4212

U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar
11 Hospital Road, Peshawar Cantt.20

Telephone: +(92)(91) 526-8800

Fax: +(92)(91) 527-6712

For Consular Services, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

ALL /
ALL /
Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Pakistan for information on U.S. - Pakistan relations.

ALL /
ALL /
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Requirements for entry and exit:

  • valid passport
  • valid Pakistani visa

Obtain your visa at a Pakistani Embassy or Consulate prior to initiating travel to Pakistan. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Pakistan cannot assist you with Pakistan visa issues. Visit the Embassy of Pakistan website for the most current visa information.

All U.S. government employees and immediate family members must follow appropriate procedures for official and personal travel to Pakistan. All official U.S. government travel requests must be submitted via the normal country clearance process and will be limited to mission critical travel only. U.S. government employees wishing to conduct unofficial travel to Pakistan must contact the appropriate office in their home agency to determine if there are any limitations or restrictions.

Dual Nationals: Be aware that different visa requirements may apply if you hold U.S. and Pakistani citizenship. For more information see the Embassy of Pakistan’s information regarding National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP) and Pakistan Origin Cards (POC).

When you travel to Pakistan, you are subject to the laws of Pakistan. If you travel to Pakistan on NICOP or POC cards, you are considered citizens of Pakistan, which may limit the amount of assistance and communication we can provide should you be arrested.  For more information see Government of Pakistan Directorate General of Immigration and Passports.

You must obtain advance permission from local or federal authorities to travel in:

  • Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)
  • Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK)
  • Province of Azad Jammu Kashmir
  • Province of Balochistan

Operational and personal security policies for official U.S. Government personnel change frequently.

Stay in compliance with Pakistani immigration regulations. If you overstay your visa or violate the terms,  you may be detained, arrested, fined, and/or imprisoned. For further details see the Ministry of Interior website or call +92-51-920-7290.

Keep copies of your U.S. passport data page, Pakistani visa or ID card, and Pakistan immigration entry stamp with you at all times.  Consider downloading these documents to your mobile phone in case of emergency.

Vaccinations: None are required when entering Pakistan from the United States, but proof of Polio vaccination within one year may be required to exit Pakistan. See U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for recommended vaccinations and health tips for travel to Pakistan. For further updates, contact the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, telephone: +92-(0)51-9202566, or email: contact@dra.gov.pk.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Pakistan.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

ALL /
ALL /
Safety and Security

See the Travel Warning for Pakistan.

Terrorist attacks are frequent in Pakistan. Extremist groups within Pakistan continue  to seek opportunities to attack locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit, including government facilities and public locations, such as schools, shopping malls, markets, hotels, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, schools, transportation hubs/stations, minority neighborhoods, and outdoor recreation areas. Terrorists also target Pakistani officials, government facilities, and religious minorities, and regularly resort to kidnapping for ransom. Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military installations and airports. Other actions include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, bombings (including vehicle-borne explosives and improvised explosive devices), assassinations, carjackings, and assaults. The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in major cities, and these measures can vary from day to day.

Demonstrations, political rallies or large religious gatherings intended to be peaceful can become confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. We advise U.S. citizens to avoid areas where large crowds of any kind gather. During demonstrations or periods of civil unrest, the Pakistani government has in the past disabled cellular telephone and internet service, making it difficult for individuals to contact each other or the U.S. Embassy or Consulates.

We recommend you limit the frequency of travel and minimize the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other public locations. We advise against the use of public transportation in Pakistan. You are strongly urged to avoid hotels that do not apply stringent security measures. Official visitors are not authorized to stay overnight in local hotels anywhere in the country. Depending on ongoing security assessments, the U.S. Mission sometimes places areas such as tourist attractions, hotels, markets, shopping malls, and restaurants off-limits to official personnel. 

Threats to civil aviation in Pakistan are not limited to attacks where militants target airports. The U.S. government is aware of narcotics smuggled onto flights from Pakistan, which may indicate broader security vulnerabilities at Pakistani airports.

We recommend you follow media coverage of local events, and maintain good situational awareness and operational security wherever you travel in Pakistan. If you feel that your life is in danger in Pakistan, we advise you to report the threat to local police authorities and consider immediately changing locations or departing Pakistan.

CRIME:

Men and women are advised to dress conservatively, with arms and legs covered, and to avoid walking alone. We recommend against travel on the streets late at night.  Urban crime can be organized or opportunistic, conducted by individuals or groups, and can include fraud, theft, robbery, carjacking, rape, assault, and burglary. Incidents of crime and levels of violence are higher in low-income residential and congested commercial areas, but are seen in wealthier areas as well. Pick-pocketing, theft and larceny are common on buses and trains at all hours of the day.

Take precautions to avoid crime, including:

  • locking home and vehicle doors
  • hiring a 24-hour guard
  • varying routes and schedules
  • keeping bags or valuables under your legs away from passing vehicle traffic, and ensuring that bag straps are not visible
  • traveling in groups
  • being accompanied by a native Urdu speaker if you travel outside urban areas
  • carrying your mobile phone

If you are assaulted, do not fight with your attacker. Flee to a safe area and report the situation to the local authorities by going directly to a police station or dialing 15.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

U.S. citizen victims of crime should first report the offense to local police by dialing 15, and then contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Police responsiveness varies widely and crimes often go unsolved or unprosecuted. Dual U.S-Pakistani nationals may not be recognized as U.S. citizens by the local authorities.

We often receive reports of U.S. citizens subjected to domestic violence, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and forced marriage in Pakistan.  There are also cases of individuals having their own and their children’s passports confiscated by spouses, parents, or other family members, and their freedom of movement severely restricted. Local police are not consistently responsive to reports of such cases. Nonetheless, if you find yourself in a life-threatening situation, you are encouraged to call the police immediately, and follow up with a call to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. We can sometimes connect you with a Pakistani non-governmental organization that may be able to provide assistance. If you are victimized overseas, you may be entitled to receive compensation for counseling and/or other services such as relocation back to the U.S. For further information, visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime committed in Pakistan.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a lost, stolen, or confiscated passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or Consulates in Karachi or Lahore for assistance.

For further information:

ALL /
ALL /
Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. The U.S. government may not act to circumvent local authorities or advocate for particular outcomes on the behalf of private individuals. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates cannot offer “safe haven.”

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings or structures, particularly sensitive places like military installations and nuclear sites, but the law on this subject is vague and applied inconsistently.  

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs could land you immediately in jail, and result in severe penalties.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Pakistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences in local prisons and heavy fines.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately to ensure we are aware of your circumstances and can provide assistance. See our webpage for further information. Pakistani law enforcement authorities will typically not notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate if a foreign citizen is arrested or detained, unless you request they do so. Pakistan’s regulations governing the travel of foreign diplomats and the procedures for gaining access to arrested individuals have delayed consular access in the past. In some cases, a Consular officer may not be able to visit due to security-related travel restrictions.

Currency:

  • Pakistan is largely a cash economy. Neither personal checks or travelers’ checks are commonly accepted in Pakistan.
  • Outside major cities, credit cards are generally not accepted, and there have been numerous reports of credit card fraud.
  • There are bank branches as well as registered currency exchangers and ATMs in all international airports. 

Forced Marriage: There are reports of U.S. citizen women of Pakistani heritage being tricked into traveling to Pakistan by their families and being forced into marriage. The U.S. government considers forced marriage to be a violation of basic human rights and in the case of minors, a form of child abuse. Forced marriage is defined as one in which one or both parties have not consented to the marriage (or are incapable of providing meaningful consent), and differs from arranged marriage. International laws and conventions support minimum ages for marriage and the individual’s right to choice in marriage. Pakistani civil law – as well as Sharia law - requires the consent of both parties for a legitimate marriage. Often, victims of forced marriage are subjected to non-consensual sex, physical and emotional abuse, isolation, and threats of violence. Persons who refuse a forced marriage are sometimes threatened with violence and being disowned from their families, who also often confiscate their belongings (including passports). In such situations, we may be able to replace stolen or wrongfully retained passports and identify resources for return travel to the United States. All U.S. citizens who fear for their safety or freedom to travel should ensure personal possession of important documents such as passports. Additionally, taking photos of items like Pakistani visas and entry stamps can often speed the process to replace such documents.

Property Disputes: Some U.S. citizens have been kidnapped, assaulted, or threatened by family members in response to family disputes over property.  Land disputes are common in Pakistan and are often difficult to resolve through legal channels. The U.S. Embassy cannot protect personal property and cannot take sides in a legal dispute. U.S. citizens wishing to purchase property should be aware of the risks, including not being physically present to oversee property. Those involved in a court dispute run the risk of having cases filed against them, and they may be arrested and jailed.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: Same-sex sexual conduct is a criminal offense in Pakistan. While the government rarely prosecutes cases, society generally shuns LGBTI persons, and violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons occurs frequently.

The penalty for same-sex relations is a fine, imprisonment (sentences ranging from two years to life imprisonment), or both. No laws protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons rarely reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information and section 6 of the Department of State’s Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance. While in Pakistan, individuals with disabilities can find accessibility and accommodation difficult. The law provides for equality of the rights of persons with disabilities, but the legal provisions are not always implemented in practice. Families typically care for most individuals with physical and mental disabilities.

Access for individuals with physical disabilities to public facilities is very limited in major cities and almost non-existent outside major population centers.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Adventure Travel: Pakistan’s mountains and glaciers make it a tempting destination for adventure enthusiasts. Despite the best efforts of local authorities, assisting visitors lost or injured in such remote areas can be difficult. In recent years, several U.S. citizens, including expert climbers, have lost their lives while climbing in the Karakoram mountain range, where rescue missions are often difficult or impossible to execute. Costs for emergency rescues start at $15,000 and payment is required prior to commencement of a search operation.  

 

ALL /
ALL /
Health

Basic medical care is available in major Pakistani cities but is limited in rural areas. Facilities in cities vary in quality and range of services, and may be below U.S. standards; facilities in rural areas are consistently below U.S. standards.  Medical facilities require prepayment for services and most do not accept credit cards.

Effective emergency response to personal injury and illness is virtually non-existent in most of Pakistan. Ambulances are few, lack medical equipment, and are not necessarily staffed by medical personnel. Bring sufficient supplies of prescription and commonly used over-the-counter medications. Many U.S. -brand medications are not available, there is a high incidence of fake pharmaceuticals, and the quality of locally-produced medications is uneven. 

See the CDC website detailing recommended vaccinations and other health precautions for traveling to Pakistan. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

Water is not potable anywhere in Pakistan, and sanitation in most restaurants is inadequate. Stomach illnesses are common.

Despite Pakistan being a generally conservative country, there is a risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other communicable diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV. Travelers are urged to use the same cautionary and protective health measures they would in their own country.

We do not pay medical bills for U.S. citizens in Pakistan. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not cover services or medication provided overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides overseas coverage. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation. If you plan to engage in high-risk outdoor activities while in Pakistan, it is essential that you engage the services of a travel risk and crisis management provider.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Pakistan to ensure the medication is legal in Pakistan. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription. 

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

ALL /
ALL /
Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: While in Pakistan, you will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below about Pakistan is provided for general reference only, and it might vary in a particular location or circumstance.

Traffic Laws: Traffic in Pakistan moves on the left; the opposite of U.S. traffic. Roads are crowded, drivers are often aggressive and poorly trained, and many vehicles, particularly large trucks and buses, are badly maintained  Local drivers are willing to drive head-on in your lane of traffic if they believe it helps them get to their destination more rapidly. Animals, horse carts, bicyclists, and pedestrians can pose roadside hazards in some areas. Roads, including most major highways, also suffer from poor maintenance and often have numerous potholes, sharp drop-offs, and barriers that are not sign-posted. Drivers should exercise extreme caution when traveling at night by road, since many vehicles do not have working headlights or dimmers, and many  roads are not illuminated or signed. We recommend against driving without experienced local drivers or guides.

Public Transportation: Avoid all trains, taxis, and other forms of public transportation. For security reasons, U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from using all forms of public transportation. See the Safety and Security section above.

See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of Pakistan’s national tourist office and Pakistan’s national highway authority.

The U. S. Embassy has restricted U. S. Government personnel from travel on certain Pakistani military aircraft due to issues with safety and maintenance histories. The Embassy advises U.S. citizens planning to travel within Pakistan on such official aircraft to exercise caution, verify the airworthiness of aircraft in planned flights, or to avoid this means of conveyance until such verification can be provided.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Pakistan’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
ALL /
ALL /
Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Islamabad

Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Islamabad, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000 or +(92)(51)201-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(51) 201-4000

Fax: +(92)(51) 282-2632

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Karachi
Plot 3-5 New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road
Karachi, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(92)(21) 3527-5000

Fax: +(92)(21) 3561-2420

U.S. Consulate General Lahore
50, Shahrah-e-Abdul Hameed Bin Badees,
(Old Empress Road) near Shimla Hill Circle,
Lahore, Pakistan

Telephone: +(92)(42) 3603-4000

Fax: +(92)(42) 3603-4212

U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar
11 Hospital Road, Peshawar Cantt.20

Telephone: +(92)(91) 526-8800

Fax: +(92)(91) 527-6712

For Consular Services, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

ALL /
ALL /
General Information

 

For information concerning travel to Pakistan, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see Pakistan country-specific information.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA). The report is located here.

 

 

 

ALL /
ALL /
Hague Abduction Convention

ALL /
ALL /
Return

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country. The government of Pakistan maintains information about custody, visitation, and family law.

Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Pakistan and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children's Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children's Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Website
Email: AskCI@state.gov

Parental abduction is a crime in Pakistan within limited parameters.  For information about Pakistani laws regarding parental abduction, please consult an attorney in Pakistan. 

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see Possible Solutions - Pressing Criminal Charges for more information. 

ALL /
ALL /
Visitation/Access

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Pakistan and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children's Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.   Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Pakistan for information and possible assistance 

ALL /
ALL /
Retaining an Attorney

Neither the Office of Children's Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Pakistan are authorized to provide legal advice.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, and the U.S. Consulates in Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan, each post a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law at:

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

ALL /
ALL /
Mediation

Mediation may be available for abduction cases.  Pakistan shares the chairmanship of the Working Party on Mediation in the context of the Malta Process, which is part of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.  If you are interested in learning more about mediation options, the central point of contact for international family mediation in Pakistan may be reached at:

Office of International Cooperation of International Family Law
Room No 313 "S" Block
M/o Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs,
Pak Secretariat,
Islamabad
Pakistan
Tel.: 051-9203053
contact@molaw.gov.pk

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
ALL /
ALL /
Hague Convention Information

Pakistan is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section  204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F). Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention or “orphan” cases. The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider acts as a primary provider in every case, and that adoption service providers providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information. The intercountry adoption of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600. However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the USCIS website on the impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications under the UAA, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.

Adopting a child in Pakistan can be a long, difficult, and legally-complex process. The Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 governs the rights and interests of minors in Pakistan. Pakistani law and Islamic Shari’a law, upon which Pakistan family law is largely based, does not allow for adoptions of Pakistani children in Pakistan. According to Pakistan's laws, prospective adoptive parents who are non-Muslim may not be appointed guardians of Muslim children, and non-Christians may not be appointed guardians of Christian children. Children abandoned at an Islamic orphanage are deemed Muslim unless there is evidence to the contrary.

U. S. citizens considering adoption of a Pakistani child must obtain guardianship for emigration and adoption in the United States from the Family Court that has jurisdiction over the prospective adoptive child’s place of residence.  In order for the child to be eligible to receive an immigrant visa, the guardianship order must specifically give permission for the child to emigrate and be adopted in another country.  Prospective adoptive parents should refer to our information sheet on Adoption of Children from Countries in which Islamic Shari'a Law is observed for more information.

Prospective adoptive parents should exercise caution and are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use. Prospective adoptive parents may be targets for unscrupulous lawyers or adoption agencies that may not be able to deliver on their promises.  Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy Islamabad’s consular section by email at AdoptionsPakistan@state.gov, or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) National Benefits Center at NBC.Adoptions@dhs.gov, before applying for guardianship of a child to ensure that proper procedures have been followed.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring a child you have obtained guardianship of to the United States from Pakistan, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States from Pakistan on an IR-4 immigrant visa.

ALL /
ALL /
Who Can Adopt

Pakistan has no statute that provides for the adoption of children; thus there is no law setting forth age, residency, or marriage requirements. In general, adoptions are a community matter in Pakistan. People often opt for informal adoptions according to their faith, outside the Family Courts. Such informal adoptions do not meet the criteria set forth in the U.S. law for the issuance of an immigration visa to an adopted child. Prospective adoptive parents must comply with U.S. legal requirements in the I-600 process and applicable provisions of the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 in Pakistan.

ALL /
ALL /
Who Can Be Adopted

If you have a particular child for adoption in mind—especially a relative—you may wish to consult a lawyer or USCIS to assist you in determining whether the child meets the definition of orphan in U.S. law before proceeding.

Please note that in order for a child to meet the definition of orphanunder U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600 petition must be filed while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if adopted or to be adopted together with a sibling under the age of 16).

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.

ALL /
ALL /
How to Adopt

Pakistan’s Adoption Authority
Pakistan does not have a central government adoption authority. Guardianship proceedings are handled by the Family Courts.

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Pakistan generally includes the following steps:

  1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child
  4. Gain legal custody of the child in Pakistan
  5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
  6. Bring your child home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Pakistan is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.

There are no adoption agencies in Pakistan. A list of attorneys is available to prospective adoptive parents on the U.S. Embassy Islamabad’s website.

2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from Pakistan, you will need to meet the requirements of both Pakistan law and U.S. immigration law.

To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt. As of July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, the home study must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311 and 22 CFR Part 96.47.

3. Be Matched with a Child

Pakistani law requires that an orphanage be licensed under the relevant local laws. In addition, Pakistani law requires that guardianship of a Pakistani child be appointed by the competent authority (i.e., the family court having jurisdiction) in compliance with local laws. Fulfilment of these legal requirements may be used to initiate the filing of a Form I-600 petition on behalf of a Pakistani child as an orphan under U.S. immigration law.

The child must be eligible for guardianship according Pakistan’s requirements, as described in the “Who Can Be Adopted” section above. The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law.

4. Gain Legal Custody of the Child in Pakistan

The process for gaining legal custody in Pakistan includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: Pakistan does not have a central government adoption authority.
  • Role of Licensed Orphanages: Once prospective adoptive parents have identified a child through a licensed orphanage, the orphanage provides the prospective adoptive parents with a letter describing the identity and social history of the child. The prospective adoptive parents or their attorney in Pakistan can file an application for guardianship in Family Court with this letter.
  • Role of the Court: Family Courts have jurisdiction over the guardianship of children. If the Family Court grants the prospective adoptive parents guardianship, it will issue a record of the proceedings, a guardianship order, and a guardianship certificate. The certificate must state that guardianship is granted for purposes of immigration to and adoption in the United States.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no adoption agencies in Pakistan.
  • Adoption Application: There is no adoption application. Prospective adoptive parents petition the Family Court for guardianship of a specific child.
  • Role of Lawyers: Attorneys assist prospective adoptive parents with understanding the process for obtaining guardianship of a Pakistani child through the Family Court, file the prospective adoptive parents’ petition for guardianship with the Family Court, and obtain final court documents. A list of attorneys is available on the U.S. Embassy’s website.
  • Time Frame: It is difficult to estimate how long it will take for prospective adoptive parents to obtain guardianship of a child through the Family Court.
  • Adoption Fees: Fees vary widely and may include lawyer’s fees, court fees, expedite fees, charges for court documents, etc. The UAA and Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.
  • Documents Required: The following documents are required to complete the adoption process:
    • Proof of U.S. citizenship of the prospective adoptive parents;
    • Proof of marriage of the prospective adoptive parents, if married; if the prospective adoptive parent is divorced, proof of the termination of all previous marriages;
    • Fingerprint cards for the prospective adoptive parents and all other adult members of the prospective adoptive parents’ household;
    • Approved home-study report.
  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State’s Authentications Office may be able to assist.

Caution: Pakistani documents on rupee paper and documents notarized by a lawyer are not considered official documents. The Embassy will only accept original or court certified documents related to guardianships in Pakistan.

Obtaining fraudulent documents is against the law in Pakistan.

5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status

After you gain legal custody in Pakistan, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

You must have an approved Form I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative before an immigrant visa may be issued. You may file your Form I-600 petition in the U.S. or at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad provided you have a valid, approved I-600A on record.

6. Bring Your Child Home

Once you have obtained legal custody of the child, you will need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:

Birth Certificate
If you have gained legal custody of the child in Pakistan, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate, referred to as the Child Registration Certificate (CRC), for your child.

You should take your guardianship certificate (issued by the Family Court) to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to amend your child's Form B, listing you as the parents. You may apply for a Pakistani passport for your child with the amended form and your guardianship certificate. Please refer to the information on how to obtain a new CRC for your child. Please note that you will also need to submit the child’s original birth certificate showing the names of the biological parents (if identified) to the Immigrant Visa Unit when you apply for the immigrant visa.

Pakistani Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Pakistan.

Information on how to apply for a Pakistan passport for your child may be found at.

U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child. At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies or if your case is UAA grandfathered. For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider in your case and the adjudicating officer may ask for the name and contact information of the primary provider if not provided in your Form I-600 petition. This information is required and, without it, your Form I-600 petition cannot be approved.

You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy Islamabad’s website.

Prospective adoptive parents who plan to file their Form I-600 with the U.S. Embassy Islamabad should contact the consular section by email at AdoptionsPakistan@state.gov to confirm that they have a valid approved Form I-600A on record and to make an appointment to file Form I-600 and supporting documents.

Prospective adoptive parents are reminded that consular officers are required by law to conduct a Form I-604 Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as the “orphan investigation”) to verify the child's orphan status before an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa may be issued. In light of the security situation in Pakistan, it can take six months or more to complete an orphan investigation, even if the Form I-600 petition is already approved. Cases in which a child’s orphan status cannot be confirmed must be forwarded to USCIS for review and final determination. Prospective adoptive parents should have flexible travel plans if they plan to remain in Pakistan until the Form I-604 is completed.

Once the consular section receives the family’s approved Form I-600 petition, staff will contact the family by email concerning their next steps. Immigrant visa applicants must complete a series of forms – details of which will be provided to the prospective adoptive parents by the consular section – before the immigrant visa interview may take place. Once the prospective adoptive parents have compiled all of the documents required for the immigrant visa interview, they must email the consular section at AdoptionsPakistan@state.gov to schedule their child’s immigrant visa appointment. A consular officer conducts the interview and, if the visa application is approved, issues the visa. A consular officer must see the adopted child in person before the immigrant visa may be issued and the biological parents may also be asked to appear at the consular section to verify the terms of the guardianship arrangement.

Note: Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes at least 24 working hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should not make final travel arrangements before they receive the visa.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible.  Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

ALL /
ALL /
Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Pakistan
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Pakistan, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Caution: If your Pakistani visa expires while you are in Pakistan it will be very difficult to exit.

Also, if you lose your passport it will be very difficult to leave Pakistan, even with a replacement U.S. passport, as the Government of Pakistan requires all passengers to show the visa or NICOB they used to enter Pakistan at the time of departure. We strongly recommend making copies of your passport and Pakistani visa. When you arrive, we suggest that you make a copy of the entry stamp, and send these copies to your email address.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
We recommend you investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of Pakistan before you arrive. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling to Pakistan, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Pakistan, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

ALL /
ALL /
After Adoption

What does Pakistan require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
The Family Law Court may ask the adoptive parents to bring the child back to Pakistan upon request. Please consult with your lawyer for further information.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

ALL /
ALL /
Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: +92 51 208 0000
Fax: +92 51 262 3673
Email: AdoptionsPakistan@state.gov
Internet: https://pk.usembassy.gov/

National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)
NADRA State Bank of Pakistan Bldg.
Shahrah-i-Jamhuriat, G-5/2
Islamabad – 44000
Tel: +92 51 111 786 1000

Embassy of Pakistan
3517 International Court, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20008
Tel: (202)243-6500
Email: info@imbassyofpakistanusa.org
Internet: pakistan-embassy.org

*Pakistan also has consulates in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston and Boston.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI, SA-17A, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: adoption@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet:  uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email:  NBC.Adoptions@dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 24 Months
A-2 None Multiple 24 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 12 Months
B-1 None Multiple 60 Months
B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 24 Months
G-2 None Multiple 24 Months
G-3 None Multiple 24 Months
G-4 None Multiple 24 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 12 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None N/A N/A 3
H-2B None N/A N/A 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 24 Months
N-9 None Multiple 24 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 48 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 48 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 48 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 48 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 48 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 48 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 48 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 36 Months
R-2 None Multiple 36 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
ALL /
ALL /
Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

ALL /
ALL /
Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

ALL /
ALL /
General Documents

Prior to 1961, in large cities, Municipal Corporations were registering births and deaths, but in 1961 the Muslim Family Law Ordinance (MFLO) was passed to formalize the marriages and divorces as well. Municipal Corporation records in big cities are still available but it is sometimes difficult to locate them, and the condition of these records is not good. After 1961, the Government began regulating the provision of some documents, but different offices were responsible for different documents, and implementation of regulations was inconsistent. In 1998, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) was created to develop a database for registering the citizens of Pakistan. NADRA-issued identity cards, birth and death certificates, and marriage and divorce certificates are now available. However, NADRA is only responsible for the computerized database used to register records; they are not responsible for the records themselves. Union Councils, Municipal Corporations, Directors of Health Services, and other local organizations are responsible for the actual records.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available for a fee, which varies by location and depending on whether a NADRA or Union Council birth certificate is requested. In larger cities, such as Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi, Municipal Corporations issued birth certificates prior to 2001. Birth certificates for older Pakistanis, particularly those born before partition in 1947, are often unavailable. These Pakistanis may present a "No Entry Certificate" issued by the Municipal Corporation or a late-registered birth certificate. Almost all records of vital statistics of the Karachi Municipality were burned in 1948.

Even today, birth records are not uniformly kept, particularly in rural areas. Where a record of birth exists, a certificate to that effect may be obtained from the Registrar of Births and Deaths, the Municipal Corporation, or the Union Council. Caution should be used, however, in accepting such certificates, since they frequently do not match the original ledgers.

Births are supposed to be registered with the Union Council within two months. Informants go to the Union Council, fill out a form, and provide their identification. The process for late registration is more complex, requiring two affidavits and the presentation of the child to the District Health Officer (DHO). The DHO then issues a letter to the concerned Union Council authorizing the late entry. Once this process has been completed, the informant can go to the Union Council for registration. Registrants can request the birth certificate on either the Union Council form, which varies from area to area and can be provided on the same day, or the NADRA form, which is uniform and usually provided in a few days. Both forms should bear a stamp and signature by the Union Council Secretary.

In lieu of a birth certificate, Pakistanis often use school records attested by the headmaster or principal of the school or matriculation certificates, both of which identify the father and the date of birth. "B" Forms, which are family registration forms listing all family members, are also available toshow family relationships. These documents are issued by NADRA, though pre-NADRA versions are sometimes available as well.

Death Certificates

Available for a fee. Records of deaths are inconsistent because most people only request one when required for a specific reason. There is no required timeframe in which to report a death. Where the death is recorded, a certificate can be obtained from the Registrar of Births and Deaths of the Municipality or the Union Council. Cantonment Boards in urban areas are also authorized to issue death certificates. In locations where a proper graveyard system exists, local authorities accept the graveyard receipt as proof of death. A death certificate issued by a hospital is also acceptable as proof. As with birth certificates, caution should be used in accepting such documents as authentic because Union Council Secretaries and other officials who document deaths may issue a certificate with little or no evidence. Union Councils will issue NADRA death certificates if requested. If the deceased died in a hospital or had a long illness prior to death, hospital and medical records can provide corroborating evidence of death.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

The marriage certificate for Muslims is the Nikah Nama. At the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom, their representatives, at least two witnesses, and the Nikah Nama officiator sign this document. There are four original copies of the Nikah Nama, which are then given to the Nikah Registrar, who is often also the officiator. The Municipality, Panchayat Committee, Cantonment Board, or Union Council appoints registrars. The Registrar should sign and stamp each original and submit the first copy (noted as such on top of the form) for registration with the Union Council, while the second and third copies are provided to the bride and groom. The Registrar should keep the fourth copy. The Nikah Registrar should register the marriage within two months, but this does not always occur. The Registrar must pay a fee for registration, which is generally obtained from the groom at the time of the Nikah ceremony. The date of registration should be entered on line 24 of the Nikah. It is not unusual for the registration date to be missing from the Nikah. The NADRA marriage certificate can provide further proof of registration. For immigration purposes, the Nikah must be registered.

The original Nikah Nama is usually in Urdu and is required for consular processing of immigrant visas. The NADRA marriage certificate is not an acceptable substitute for the Nikah Nama. Attested translations of the Nikah Nama should be provided. In some larger jurisdictions, such as Karachi and Lahore, an original English Nikah Nama may be given upon request.

Marriage certificates for religious minorities (Christians, Hindus, Parsis) are issued by church or temple leaders and are not generally registered with local authorities. The internal procedures for marriage documentation vary between institutions and denominations. Christian marriages can be made a matter of civil record with subsequent preparation of registrar certificates witnessed by magistrates under the Christian Marriage Act of 1892, though this procedure is rarely followed.

Many foreign embassies require wedding photographs and video in addition to the Nikah Nama or marriage certificate as proof of marriage.

Divorce Certificates

Available. Muslim Pakistani divorce laws, governed by the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance (MFLO), are complicated and must be followed for divorces to be recognized for immigration purposes.

In Azad Kashmir, the "bare Talaq" (uncontestable verbal pronouncement of divorce by the husband) is still permitted. Some foreign embassies and Pakistani legal authorities question the validity of the bare Talaq if the wife resides outside Azad Kashmir and contests such a divorce under the laws prevailing in other areas of Pakistan. While there may be no documentation of a divorce in Azad Kashmir, the Tehsil or District Mufti will give a certificate upon request stating the details of the divorce. These details are provided by the interested parties. While some District Muftis will keep copies of these certificates, there is no requirement for this, nor will there be any other record of these divorces.

In Pakistan (apart from Azad Kashmir), divorce is subject to arbitration, and the process of divorce differs depending on whether it is initiated by the husband (Talaq), or the wife (Khula). A husband can go directly to the Union Council to initiate a divorce. Unless the wife grants permission otherwise, the divorce must occur in the district where she resides at the time of divorce. The Union Council registers the divorce and initiates the Arbitration Council, which normally consists of two representatives from each party. The chairman of the Arbitration Council is normally the administrator of the Union Council. Each month for three months, the Union Council sends arbitration notices to the parties for attempts at reconciliation. After three months, either party may request a failure of reconciliation certificate from the Union Council/Arbitration Council. This divorce certificate means the divorce is effective and either party may remarry.

There are two possible procedures to obtain a Khula divorce. A husband can grant his wife the right of divorce by stating "yes" on line 18 of the Nikah Nama (which is rare). If this right is granted, the wife follows the same procedure as for the Talaq above. If the wife is not granted this right, she must first go to Family Court to request the right to initiate a divorce. If the suit is successful, the Family Court is required to submit their decision to the Union Council within seven days. The Union Council will then initiate the Arbitration Council and follow the same arbitration procedures as above. In reality, the Family Court often does not inform the Union Council of their decision. Often, the court order will actually state that the divorce is granted. However, to finalize the divorce under the MFLO, if the court does not notify the Union Council, the wife must do so herself. Once the wife notifies the Union Council, the same procedure as for Talaq is followed, but if the parties reconcile during the arbitration process, the court decision will be null and void.

A divorce in Pakistan is not effective and neither party may remarry until 90 days after the divorce has been announced to the Arbitration Council. The Union Council divorce certificate will indicate if the divorce was a Talaq or Khula. A handwritten divorce certificate is issued by the Union Council. NADRA began issuing divorce certificates a few years ago, but if a NADRA divorce certificate is provided for an older divorce, the original Union Council certificate should also be provided. The specific form for the Union Council certificate will vary by location. In all cases, copies of the arbitration notices should be available upon request.

As with adoption documents, Pakistanis often obtain "divorce deeds" on "rupee paper". Such documentation of divorce is not valid for immigration purposes. The legal procedures above must be followed for the divorce to be valid.

Where a divorce has been granted by a civil court, as in the case of Christians, copies of the orders may be obtained from the court.

Adoption Certificates

Adoption Records

Unavailable. Islamic law, and as a result, Pakistani law, does not recognize adoption. Pakistanis often obtain various documents identified as "adoption deeds". One common format is an "adoption deed" written on "rupee paper" and signed by the biological and "adoptive" parents. As adoptions are not recognized in Pakistan, and "rupee paper" is not a legal document, these documents are not evidence of a legal adoption and as such are not acceptable for immigration purposes. Even court documents claiming that a child has been adopted are not acceptable. Family courts, in an attempt to assist those who agree to care for the children of others, may state in the orders that an adoption has occurred, but this is not a legal adoption acceptable for immigration purposes. At best, the court can grant guardianship of a child to a non-parental adult. While such an order may be acceptable for an IR-4 visa if the child meets other qualifications, this order is not sufficient for immigration under other family-based visa categories.

Due to the complicated nature of cases involving adults caring for non-biological children, those wishing to take such children to the U.S. or those wishing to take children to the U.S. for purposes of finalizing adoptions should first contact an immigration attorney or the U.S. Embassy for more information.

ALL /
ALL /
Identity Card

Pakistan issues identity cards to citizens at age 18 for a fee. These are required of adults in order to vote or to obtain driver's licenses and passports. The NADRA identity cards include the father or husband's name, date of birth, gender, address, identification number (old and current), family number, as well as some biometrics. Some new cards also include an electronic chip. The identity cards are issued by NADRA when an applicant fills out the proper form and submits their birth certificate. NADRA also accepts "B" Forms or school records as proof of identity to issue the card. National Identity Cards for Overseas Pakistanis (NICOP, for Pakistanis working overseas) and Pakistani Origin Cards (POC, for Pakistanis having other nationalities after surrendering Pakistani Nationality) are also issued by NADRA. The holder of a POC doesn't need a visa to come to Pakistan, but they need to have their valid passport in addition to the POC.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Not available. Pakistan has no nationwide tracking system in place for criminal activities. Police Character Certificates are available for a fee from District Coordinating Offices. However, they are not an accurate reflection of an individual's criminal record. An applicant who has committed a crime in one district may be able to obtain a clean Character Certificate from that district or another. Given the inaccuracy of these certificates, they are not required for consular processing.

Court Records

Available for a fee. Records of court proceedings can be requested and obtained through the appropriate court.

Prison Records

Not available to individuals. Prison records will be issued only in response to an official request, made through the Ministry of Interior, to the Inspector General of Prisons in the district where the prison is located.

Military Records

Some military records may be available. Current and former military personnel should be able to provide their service book, which is issued to all service personnel and contains biographical information, rank, and retirement information. Some personnel are able to obtain records related to their assignments though there is no uniform method through which this information is received.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Available for a fee, which varies depending on the number of pages in the passport and whether the passport application is expedited or processed normally. The validity of the passport was five years but, starting November 1, 2012, passports are now valid for ten years. The Government of Pakistan issues three types of travel documents in the form of passports (ordinary, official, and diplomatic). Passports are printed by NADRA but issued by the Ministry of Interior. Travel documents may not be available for refugees or stateless persons.

Diplomatic Passports (red cover): Issued to ambassadors, career diplomats, heads of state and government and federal ministers.

Official Passports (blue cover): Issued to members of the National Assembly and their immediate family members, high-ranking civil service personnel, and military personnel traveling on official business.

Ordinary Passports (green cover): Issued to any qualifying citizen of Pakistan for private travel. Normally valid for travel to all countries of the world except Israel. Older passports will be valid for all countries except Israel, India and/or South Africa.

Pakistani names are subject to a variety of combinations with no established surname rule. Individuals may change their names by simply announcing name changes in the newspaper. For older persons and those born in rural areas, frequently only the year of birth is available. It is not uncommon for birth dates to be changed. The essential element of identity is generally the name of the father and, in the case of a married woman, the name of the husband. Adherence to standards of proof of identification for these passport entries can be lax.

Other Records

Not applicable

Visa Issuing Posts

Islamabad, Pakistan (Embassy)

All categories, serves Pakistan and some citizens from Afghanistan, particularly those who are resident in Pakistan.

Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5

Karachi (Consulate)

U.S. Consulate General
Plot 3, 4, 5, New TPX Area
Mai Kolachi Road
Karachi, Pakistan

Visa Inquiries: (+92-21) 111-234-111
Monday - Friday, 8 AM to 8 PM

General Telephone: (+92-21) 3520-4200
Fax: (+92-21) 3568-0496

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Visa Services

Islamabad is the only location for immigrant visa processing in Pakistan. Lahore offers no visa processing. Islamabad also processes refugee and asylee follow-to-join beneficiaries for Afghanistan.

In addition, Karachi services non-immigrant visa travelers living in Sindh and Balochistan provinces. Applications must be submitted through the American Express Travel Office in Karachi.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 349-3177 (202) 686-1534

Chicago, IL (312) 781-1831 (312) 781-1838 (312)-781-1839

Houston, TX (281) 894-6605 (281) 890-1433

Los Angeles, CA (310) 441-5114 (310) 441-9256

New York, NY (212) 879-5800 (212) 517-6987

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Islamabad
Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5 Islamabad, Pakistan
Telephone
+(92)(51) 201-4000 or +(92)(51)201-5000
Emergency
+(92)(51) 201-4000
Fax
+(92)(51) 282-2632
Pakistan Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.