Maintaining rights as a Pakistani citizen while living out of the country?

Despite a lot of controversy on the India Pakistan front, whether religious, the Kashmir issue and the general issues on the border, Pakistan, just like India, has a lot to offer. The country is known for centuries of culture that it brings to the table. Other than having a lot of deserts, Pakistan does have some beautiful lakes, valleys, mountains and is quite scenic.

The movement of the Pakistani Citizens

Pakistan has an interesting dynamic with the rest of the world, being the only Muslim country to have nuclear power. From an economic point of view, the country does have a semi agricultural and semi-industrial economy. With this as the backdrop for everything happening in the country, a large number of people are moving out of the country in search of work. Additionally, there are people moving to other countries for various other reasons as well. However, the movement brings with it the surrender of a lot of the rights of the citizens which was something they weren’t very keen on doing. The Government created a system wherein Pakistani citizens could retain their rights while in other parts of the world.

What is NICOP and how is it different from NADRA?

NADRA (National Database and Registration Agency) under the Ministry of Interior, is an independent and autonomous agency which was created for the purpose of regulating Government databases and managing sensitive information of all the national citizens of Pakistan. They are also responsible for issuing computerised National Identity Cards which are used by the citizens of Pakistan for all their identification requirements whenever there are computerised systems.

Another system that is being regulated by the ​NADRAonline​ platform is identity cards for people from Pakistan living in other parts of the world. The ​NICOP  (National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis) is a document that people from Pakistan living in other parts of the world can apply for.

What is the NICOP application process?

The NICOP process can be handled online or by heading to the NADRA office. There are NADRA offices in different parts of the world and they can be used for any or all assistance relating to the process. It should be mentioned that the online process, although more convenient and faster since everything can be uploaded at the applicant’s convenience, would also need a visit to the office.

After filling out all the application forms and attaching all supporting documents, the system needs the applicant’s biometrics and photographs that cannot be sent in but would need to be clicked and taken at the office. Although, handling the entire process through the office would warrant multiple trips to the office. After all documents and details have been submitted, they have to be sent to the head office for approval, which would take about a month for the dispatch.

What are the perks of living outside Pakistan and signing up for the NICOP?

There are multiple benefits, but in a sentence, Pakistan citizens can live in any part of the world and have all their rights in Pakistan. However, the most significant part of this document is that they would be able to travel to Pakistan whenever they wanted without a visa since the NICOP acts as a visa on foreign passports, or they can receive their visa on arrival.

The other benefits of a NICOP card are:

  • Protection of the rights of a Pakistani citizen
  • Full recognition as a regular Pakistani citizen
  • Permission to open a bank account in Pakistan
  • Can apply for Machine Readable Passport (MRP)
  • Acts as proof of Pakistan citizenship
  • Permission to buy and sell property in Pakistan