Online visa draws thousands

By Leon Berenger

An estimated 15,000 online visa applications have already been received from intended foreign visitors, as the system came into effect from midnight yesterday, Immigration and Emigration Controller Chulananda Perera said.

He said a top-level immigration team led by him would be at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) from 10 a.m. today to personally monitor the new visa process. “However those who have not applied for the online visa will not be turned back. We have set up two special counters to deal with such persons and they would be provided landing visas. We need to be fair. They may be visitors who may not be aware of the new system while there will be those who may be on transit,” he said.

Mr. Perera also said airlines had been instructed to board passengers irrespective of their individual visa status. “Online visa or otherwise each and every one will have to pay the same fee”, he said.

Visitors from South Asia would be charged US$ 10 while those from other countries will have to pay US$ 50. Visitors from Singapore and the Maldives would be provided visas on arrival free of charge since these two countries provide the same facility to Sri Lankans. “Other countries which reciprocate accordingly will be also provided with this same facility,” Mr. Perera said.

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