Sri Lanka asking foriegn countries to extend visas for Lankans stranded there

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is asking foreign governments to extend the visas of Sri Lankans currently visiting their countries and unable to return because of travel bans due to the COVID19 pandemic.

The Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Relations Ravinatha Aryasinha met with envoys from the Western Hemisphere and made this request, the Ministry said in a press statement.

Aryasinha noted that the Government of Sri Lanka had announced a one-month extension of all types of visas for those foreign nationals present in the country, from the date of expiry of their present visas.

He said such reciprocal arrangements were a common practice and hoped that this could be facilitated for Sri Lankans, to minimize the anxieties faced by those travelling, in these exceptional times.

In turn, the envoys expressed their appreciation of the efforts of the Sri Lankan government and said they would communicate the request for reciprocal visa extensions to their respective governments, the statement added.

Foreign Secretary Aryasinha made these observations Wednesday, when he addressed the group, as part of the series of briefing sessions to keep the diplomatic community informed of the developments with regard to measures taken by Sri Lanka to control the spread of COVID-19.

While appreciating the supportive role played by the respective governments on assisting the Sri Lankan communities in their countries, the Foreign Secretary shared with the envoys present, the current status regards foreign nationals in Sri Lanka and some difficulties experienced by Sri Lankans overseas.

He said, recognizing the concerns at present, all Sri Lanka diplomatic outposts now serve as emergency response units, where only limited consular and other services are continued to be offered amid the current challenges.

Concerns of foreign missions in Colombo over their citizens, facilities at the quarantine centres, and proper communication channels were effectively responded to by the local stake-holders present. The meeting also reached consensus on the smooth departure of foreign nationals, notwithstanding the closure of the airport for those seeking to enter Sri Lanka the statement said. (Colombo, March 18, 2020)

-Arjuna Ranawana

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