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Sri Lanka's new visa system UPSC NOTE

 The new visa system

  • Beginning April 17, Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration and Emigration directed travellers to a new visa portal, run by VFS Global, for online visa application under various categories. 

  • The formerly used Electronic Travel Authorisation system, known for its speed and accessibility, was scrapped.

  • The move followed a Cabinet decision last year, based on a proposal from Public Security Minister Tiran Alles, to appoint GBS Technology Services & IVS Global-FZCO and VFS Global as authorised agents for the online submission of visa applications for foreigners visiting Sri Lanka.

  • Subsequently, the three companies formed a consortium and signed an agreement with Sri Lankan authorities

  • The new system, introduces a streamlined approach with updated requirements, fees, and validity periods for visas in Sri Lanka.


  • With the introduction of the new system, Sri Lanka’s visa fee nearly doubled, along with the introduction of a $18.5 service fee and $5 convenience fee charged by VFS Global

  • Even as users pointed to the absence of a single-entry, 30-day tourist visa option, a recent video recording of a visiting Sri Lankan complaining that “Indians” were handling visa issuance at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo sparked a fresh controversy

  • The video clip of the angry man went viral, prompting the Indian High Commission in Colombo to clarify that the companies involved are “not India-based or Indian and are headquartered elsewhere”. 

  • “Any reference to India in this context is unwarranted”

  • GBS Technology Services is Singapore-based, and partners with IVS Global Services, a company incorporated in Maharashtra in 2010. 

  • Now a global outsourcing and technology services provider, IVS also processes Indian visa applications of Sri Lankans. 

  • VFS Global, founded in India in 2001, is currently headquartered in Zurich and Dubai, and was acquired by the American private equity firm Blackstone in 2021.


  • Meanwhile, Indian tourists, who have consistently topped Sri Lanka’s arrival charts — 3,02,844 or 20% of total arrivals in 2023 — have encountered a peculiar problem navigating the new system. 

  • In a bid to encourage tourism and revive the island’s crisis-hit economy, Sri Lanka in October 2023 waived visa fees for tourists from India and six other countries — China, Russia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Japan. 

  • The arrangement has since been extended.

  • However, despite qualifying for a “free visa”, Indians are having to pay close to $23, towards service and convenience fee.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Sri Lanka's new visa system UPSC NOTE
Sri Lanka's new visa system UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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