Dual citizenship of 35,000 people under review

By Leon Berenger

Dual citizenship granted to some 35,000 Sri Lankans living overseas has come under review as the authorities plan to tighten the screening process before granting this facility to applicants, a senior official said yesterday.

Immigration and Emigration Controller W. A. Chulananda Perera said only those with loyalty to their country of birth and who abide by the rules of the land by paying their taxes would be granted this facility.
He said that under a 1987 amendment to the Dual Citizenship Act, the Defence Ministry retained the power to cancel the dual citizenship to an individual at any time if he or she fell short of specified requirements to enjoy such a facility.

“For example, there are families that are forced to live abroad to take care of their children’s schooling or a large business and other interests, but at the same time they keep their commitments by paying their taxes to Sri Lanka. There are others who have damned the country for various reasons but now seek dual citizenship. It is in cases such as this that a review will be carried out,” Mr. Perera said.

He said the main purpose of this review was to carefully select people who would help Sri Lanka with no hidden agendas. He promised the screening would not be on ethnic or religious basis but purely on merit on loyalty and commitment to Sri Lanka.

He said senior citizens and professionals would be among those given special preference for dual citizenship. Earlier this year the Government put on hold the issuing of fresh dual citizenships until further notice, but it did not give any specific reason.

At present there are some 3,300 such applicants seeking approval and only about 620 have been cleared and sent for final approval by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the Defence Minister.
Earlier dual citizenship could be obtained by paying a fee of Rs. 200,000, or being the owner of real estate valued at Rs. 2.5 million or having a bank deposit of Rs. 2.5 million.

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