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Afghan nationals carry their passports as they wait to extend their visas outside the Pakistani immigration office in Peshawar on March 13, 2017, following the Pakistani Torkham and Chaman borders were closed with Afghanistan. A spike in tensions led to the border being closed following a spate of attacks in Pakistan, the deadliest of which was a suicide attack at a crowded Sufi shrine in Pakistan's Sindh province which killed 90 people, and which was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group. / AFP PHOTO / ABDUL MAJEED

UAE halts new visas to citizens of 13 states, including Afghanistan

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The United Arab Emirates has stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Syria and Pakistan, according to a document issued by a state-owned business park.

A source briefed on the matter told Reuters the visas had temporarily stopped being issued to Afghans, Pakistanis and citizens of several other countries over security concerns, but did not provide details of those concerns.

The document, sent to companies operating in the park and seen by Reuters, cited an immigration circular that came into effect on Nov. 18.

The document said applications for new employment and visit visas had been suspended for nationals – those outside the UAE – of 13 countries that also included Somalia, Libya and Yemen until further notice.

The ban also applies to citizens of Algeria, Kenya, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey, it says.

It was not clear if there were any exceptions to the ban.

The UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

The circular took effect a week after the French Embassy in the UAE urged its citizens to maintain vigilance after a bomb attack in Saudi Arabia on diplomats claimed by Islamic State.

The explosion, which occurred during a World War One commemoration ceremony in Jeddah, was the first attack in years where explosives were used in an attempt to hit foreigners in the conservative kingdom.

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