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HomeNewsVisa services by foreign firms at Colombo airport to continue despite protests

Visa services by foreign firms at Colombo airport to continue despite protests

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The immigration authorities have confirmed that foreign companies will continue to provide visa services for travelers at the Bandaranaike International Airport, despite recent protests and disruptions. The decision comes after a delay at the visa-on-arrival counter last week due to a technical fault, which led to protests by tourists.

The incident, which involved a Sri Lankan traveler who recorded his disappointment after airport officials refused to grant a visa to his partner, sparked concerns about the efficiency of the new visa issuance process. Historically, visas in Sri Lanka were managed either online or on arrival by the Department of Immigration and Emigration. However, in March of this year, the Cabinet of Ministers decided to outsource this process to a third party, VFS Global, a foreign company.

Since April 16, VFS Global has been responsible for visa issuance at the airport. This change also brought alterations in visa fees, with the online visa fee increasing from £39 to £56.25, along with the introduction of convenience and facility fees totaling £18.99, resulting in a total fee of £75.58.

The incident at the airport, which led to a heated argument and the withdrawal of VFS Global from visa issuance activities, highlighted the challenges faced during the transition period. However, immigration officials have reassured travelers that the situation has been resolved, and visa services will continue as usual.

In response to inquiries, Viyani Gunathilaka, the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security, attributed the temporary suspension of on-arrival visa issuance to a technical glitch, reassuring that the situation has been resolved.

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Despite the challenges, the immigration department has stated that the services of foreign companies like GBS Technology Services and IVS Global FZCO in partnership with VFS VF Worldwide Holdings Ltd will continue at the Bandaranaike International Airport. The Indian High Commission in Colombo has also clarified that the companies involved are not Indian, dispelling earlier allegations.

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