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Overstaying Russians and Ukrainians must apply for visa or depart: Alles

4 March 2024 10:10 am - 5     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Colombo, March 4 (Daily Mirror)- Public Security Minister Tiran Alles said yesterday that Russians and Ukrainians who have been in Sri Lanka since February 2022 will need to apply for a visa or leave the country.

The minister told the Daily Mirror that the free visa facility granted to them will not be extended and they must comply with immigration regulations by applying for fresh visas.

Meanwhile, according to the Tourist Development Authority, an estimated 300 to 400 Russians and Ukrainians have been staying in Sri Lanka since February 2022.

The visa fee is approximately $50 for a 30-day stay in Sri Lanka.

Last week, the Immigration Department released a letter to the Tourism Ministry Secretary requesting him to notify the long term Ukrainian and Russian tourists living in Sri Lanka to leave by March 7.

The circular said that Ukrainians and Russians who were affected by the stoppage of flights to their home countries after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war were allowed to remain in Sri Lanka since February 28, 2022, a full two years, based on free visa extensions and without the imposition of penalties for expired tourist visas.

The letter further said that although the Russian-Ukraine conflict continues, there are now direct flights between Russia and Sri Lanka, while Ukrainians also have facilities to enter and leave Sri Lanka by air. Therefore, Russian and Ukrainian tourists belonging to the above categories have been given 14 days from 2024/02/23 to 2024/03/07 to leave this country.

The President who was unaware of this circular being released ordered a probe into how such a document could be released without prior cabinet approval and has sought an explanation from the Immigration Chief.

When asked about the letter instructing Russian and Ukrainian tourists to depart the country within 14 days, the minister acknowledged that it was wrong. He said that the directive should have either required them to obtain visas or leave the country.

Meanwhile, when asked whether the project that permitted visa-free entry to visitors from seven countries, including India, China and Russia, would be extended further, the minister expressed that the facility may not be extended.

The pilot project is set to remain in effect until March 31, 2024.


  Comments - 5

  • Nimal Pathirana Monday, 04 March 2024 01:20 PM

    Dear Mr. Minister $50 is a Pittance for these people and the country does not benefit at all. $50 is about 4 cups of coffee at a Starbucks in the States and these "Tourists" can certainly afford to pay more than that. Their presence does not benefit the tourist industry and they are using Sri Lanka as a means to avoid national service in their respective countries. Most people in the down south know their behaviour; They look down on us Brown people ; are boorish and racist. They engage in unauthorised businesses directly competing with locals without paying taxes and by-passing local banking systems. They will never allow us to behave this way if we were to go and live in Russia or Ukraine. ( Ask the Sri Lankan Students who got caught up during the early stages of the war between the Russians and the Ukrainians!). Over all.. Bad decision...

    Smh Monday, 04 March 2024 04:40 PM

    Immigration Dept and minister must be on the same page of the law. It is embarrassing when they are conflicting to resolve such a basic violation of visa terms.

    DOT Monday, 04 March 2024 08:49 PM

    They must have escape from war!

    Sri Lankan Tuesday, 05 March 2024 02:00 AM

    Dear Minister, Please heed to our request to do the following before ever giving these 'Trash White' an extension of stay in our country. Do a thorough audit of the monies they have in hand right now? Check what they brought into the country and how long they stayed in this country and if this agrees on their balances. If they cannot justify their present balances-please show them the exit door.

    wsw Tuesday, 05 March 2024 05:34 AM

    Why not just deport these over stayers, their presence seems to do more harm than good to the country. The alleged illegal actions of these people could eventually cause a riot and pandemonium in these tourist areas while the authorities concerned, continue to be fast asleep at the wheel.


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