WORKING ABROAD / SEP. 11, 2014
version 4, draft 4

How to Get a Work Visa in Sri Lanka

Sri lanka

According to new regulations which went into effect in January 2012, all business and holiday travelers to Sri Lanka are required to obtain an ETA or Electronic Travel Authorization and can visit the ETA Authorization System Website for more details. For those individuals seeking to work long-term in the country, they will also need to obtain a work visa in addition to the ETA. There are various requirements and steps that need to be followed in order to obtain entry into the country. This article will detail the process of how to get a work visa in Sri Lanka.

Apply Through Government Agencies

Interested individuals, who want to obtain a work visa in Sri Lanka, need to apply at one of the following three government agencies. You can also apply for a work visa by contacting The Department of Immigration & Emigration.  

  • The Head Office of the Department of Immigration & Emigration
  • The Sri Lankan Overseas Missions
  • Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) – upon arrival
  • Mattala Rajapaska International Airport (MRIA) – upon arrival

Information about the Various Sri Lankan Visas

Obtaining a Sri Lankan visa endorses an individual’s passport and authorizes legal entry of a non-national into the country for a conditional period of time. The visa also regulates various conditions governing the individual’s time residing and working in the country. There are four types of Sri Lankan visas which allow an individual to enter or reside in the country.

1. Tourist Visit Visa – is issued for tourists who wish to enter the country for sightseeing, vacations or short excursions.

2. Business Purpose Visa – is issued to individuals who want to enter the country for business reasons for a short time period.

3. Residence Visa – is issued for an individual who is seeking residence in the country for specific purposes. This type of visa has 7 different subcategories as listed below.

  • Employment Category – under this category, there are several types of individuals (and their dependents) who qualify for this visa. The Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka employs project professional personnel whose services are needed for various projects and they qualify for this type of visa. Some types of volunteers qualify in this category. Personnel employed at banks, non-governmental organizations, organizations under diplomatic missions and those employed by private companies also qualify.
  • Investor Category – individuals who want to invest monetary capital or to engage in business activities qualify for this type of visa.
  • Religious Category – this visa category is for members of the clergy who come to work in Sri Lanka.
  • Student Category – university students and individuals in other types of educational institutions, which are approved by the State, are eligible for this visa category.
  • Registered Indians – these individuals are covered under the 1954 Indo-Lanka Agreement.
  • Official Category – are reserved for individuals with diplomatic status. Diplomats receive Gratis Visas meaning that they do not have to pay any fees for the visa.
  • Government Programs – individuals are also granted visas for the following two programs: My Dream Home Visa Programme and Resident Guest Visa Programme.

4. Transit Visa – This visa is granted to individuals who need to get admission into the country for a short time period which is related to the travel course to their journey.

Visa Eligibility Requirements

There are several categories of individuals who are exempt from having to obtain a visa. They are listed below.

  • Sri Lankan nationals who have dual citizenship
  • Children who were born in Sri Lanka with parents under the age of 21
  • Children up to the age of 21 whose births have been registered under section 5(2) of the Citizenship Act – 1948

In order to obtain a Sri Lankan visa, there are several eligibility requirements that an individual needs to fulfill. Those requirements are listed below.  

  • The Immigration & Emigration Department is satisfied that the applicant is suitable to be permitted entrance to the country.
  • The Immigration & Emigration Department has approved the reason why the applicant wants to enter the country.
  • The applicant holds a passport which is valid for a term of up to six months from the date that the individual arrives in the country.
  • The Immigration & Emigration Department has confirmed that the applicant has the appropriate funding to maintain his or her stay as well as pay for the return to his or her own country.
  • The applicant is in possession of a ticket or “written assurance” that he or she will be returning to the country named on his or her passport, or to the next country of destination in the journey.

General Conditions of a Visa

In order to obtain and maintain a visa, the applicant must adhere to the following general conditions.

  • Applicants cannot engage in any type of employment (whether paid or unpaid)—or participate in any business transactions—which have not been specifically stated and confirmed on the visa documentation during the eligible term of stay.
  • Applicants must utilize their visa before the stated expiration date on the documentation.
  • Applicant’s visa is only valid during the individual’s entry into the country for the pre-determined term of stay.
  • Any visa extension requests must be made to the Department of Immigration & Emigration.

Applying for a work visa in Sri Lanka first begins by obtaining an ETA or Electronic Travel Authorization. You can then apply online for the work visa or visit one of the local government agencies. There are specific categories that each individual applicant may qualify under. Fulfilling the eligibility requirements and adhering to the visa conditions is vital to obtaining and maintaining your visa for the permitted term of stay.

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