Iran’s consulate in Herat resumes issuing tourist visas to Afghan nationals

The Iranian Consulate in the western province of Herat has resumed issuing tourist visas to Afghans, according to a statement by the consulate.

The consulate said they had reached an agreement with Taliban officials, allowing agencies under the Iranian consulate to process tourist visas for Afghans.

People who need Iranian visas should submit their visa application to one of Iran’s approved tourism companies.

Previously, applicants could easily register for a visa via an online portal provided by the Iranian Foreign Ministry or could proceed with their visa application through all companies that provided pilgrim and tourism services in their relevant provinces.

But now tourism companies approved by the Iranian consulate charge 350 Afs ($3.3) for each visa application for their services which was 150 Afghani ($1.67) in the past. Moreover, the visa fee has also increased from 7,500 Afs ($83.37) to 8,350 Afs ($92.82).

The Iranian consulate has authorized three tourism companies to provide Iran visa processing services in Herat province. Meanwhile, 311 other tourism companies, where nearly 1,000 people were working, are on the verge of collapse as a number of their owners explained.

The owners of the companies called on Iranian officials to reverse their decision.

“Many tourism services providers have stopped their operations. Only those approved are getting applicants. If these companies belong to consulates, why do they charge people for registration?” asked Haidari.

Residents of western provinces welcomed the resumption of Iran’s visa issuance and said part of their problems would be resolved.

“People face many problems. Some are sick, some are in dire need of visas in order to go and to seek jobs in Iran and find food for their families,” said Ahmad Shah, a resident of Herat.

A number of people who have applied for a visa via the approved agencies raised their concerns over their “poor services.”

“I have been waiting for three days, people are making a lot of noise and the Taliban are beating them and they are not taking care of people’s problems. We request them to issue visas to the people and let them register in more places so that their problems are solved,” said Fraidoon, a resident of Herat.

“There is a need for some rules to be put in place to address people’s problems,” said Mohammad, a resident of the Shindand district in Herat.

A Taliban official in Herat said that certain companies have been authorized to process visa applications for the Iran consulate.

“Iran consulate’s official agents are present at the places allocated for registering passports are the official consular agents of Iran,” said Naeem-ul-Haq Haqqani, head of the Taliban’s information and culture directorate in Herat.

Meanwhile, the Taliban official said efforts are underway to address the problem of the people who have lost their jobs after the decision.