Visa Law Sri Lanka

Immigrants and Emigrants Act No. 20 of 1948, it's Regulations and subsequent amendments.
  1. Controller of Immigration and Emigration, Colombo.
  2. Heads of Sri Lanka Missions abroad.


  1. Multiple Entry
  2. Residence
  3. Visit
  4. Transit
  5. Visas to Registrants under the Special Resident Guest Scheme
  1. Multiple Entry/Transit/Visit visa applications should be made to the nearest Sri Lanka Mission.
  2. In the absence of such a mission arrangements could be made through the Dept. of Immigration and emigration in Sri Lanka, to enter and stay in the country.
  3. Applications for the extension of above Visas should be made to the Dept. of Immigration and Emigration
  4. Applications for Residence Visas/Visas under the Special Resident Guest Scheme should be made to the Dept. of Immigration and Emigration.
Note: Unexpired validity of the Travel Document should cover beyond a period of two months, the period of the applicants intended stay in Sri Lanka.
More Information
Deputy Controller [Visa]
Department of Immigration and Emigration
# 23 Station Rd Colombo 4 Sri Lanka
Phone: 94-11-2597511
Fax: 94-11-2591809
Being a foreign national who desires to invest monetary capital or to engage in business activities in Sri Lanka. [Documentary proof is required]
Period of Validity
Up to One year
  1. Expatriate personnel whose services are required for projects approved by the State.
  2. Expatriate personnel employed in projects under Board of Investment of Sri Lanka.
  3. A foreign national
    1. Who desires to invest monetary capital or
    2. To engage in business activities in Sri Lanka.
  4. Members of the Clergy.
  5. Religious Workers and Religious Students.
  6. Volunteers.
  7. Personnel attached to Non-Governmental Organisations.
  8. Foreign students
    1. In Universities
    2. Educational Institutions approved by the State
    3. Other Institutions
  9. Registered Indians covered by the 1954 Agreement.
  10. Ex Sri Lankans.
  11. Spouses of Sri Lankans.
  12. Children of Sri Lankans but holding foreign nationality.

Documents required for the above categories

  1. [1,2,3,4,5 & 6] Recommendation of Line Ministry/BOI.
  2. [7] Recommendation of NGO Secretariat.
  3. [8] Recommendation of Ministry of Higher Education in case of University Students.

Letter from Institution, relevant Embassy and encashment receipts to the value of US$ 1500/- a year, in case of other Students.

  1. [9 & 10] Passport with application.
  2. [11] Marriage Certificate & documentary proof of citizenship of spouse.

In case of male spouse

  1. A letter from the relevant mission representing his country in Sri Lanka confirming civil status, divorce decree (when applicable).
  2. A Police report from the country of domicile.
  3. [12] Birth Certificate and parent's Marriage Certificate if the birth is not registered with the Ministry of Defence/Ministry of Interior.
Period of Validity
  1. One Year. (Initial Issue)
  2. Renewable annually.
To obtain a Residence Visa, it is necessary to arrive in Sri Lanka on an Entry Visa issued by a Sri Lanka Mission abroad with the concurrence of the Controller of Immigration and Emigration.
Visit Visas issued without the Controller's approval will not be considered for conversion into Residence Visas.
Legal provision exists for the grant of Residence Visas to foreigners under section 4 of Immigrants and Emigrants Regulations of 1956. In the case of foreigners who are spouses of Sri Lankan citizens, Residence Visas will be granted on the basis of the following
  1. A foreigner married to a Sri Lankan citizen is entitled to apply for a Residence Visa on the basis of the marriage. This is on the widely accepted principle of assisting family union and/or re-union.
  2. To guard against what is termed, * 'Marriage of Convenience' (see definition below).An application by a foreigner for a Residence Visa on grounds of marriage, may be rejected if there was sufficient cause for the government to believe that the marriage was only for the purpose of obtaining Residence Visa. also there is no restriction on employment in private sector and they can engage in any lowfull profession on trade of their choice.                          
An appeal from a decision of the Controller in this regard would be available to the Minister responsible for Immigration whose decision shall be final.
'Marriage of Convenience' is defined as one where an objective verification of the facts by the Controller of Immigration & Emigration discloses that the intention of the foreigner was not marriage to a Sri Lankan but to go through the procedure of registering the marriage only for the purpose of qualifying for a Residence Visa.
  1. The following documentary evidence should be made available to the applicant (foreigner) in support of his application for a Residence Visa-
    1. A Marriage Certificate attested by a competent authority in Sri Lanka or abroad in support of the marriage;
    2. * The Sri Lankan spouse's proof of citizenship-       e.g.
      • Passport
      • Citizenship Certificate
      • Certificate of Birth
      • In the case of a divorcee, a certified copy of the divorce decree
  2. Where the Controller/Immigration & Emigration considers it necessary, documentary evidence that the applicant has not been convicted in a criminal case of grave consequence, may be requested from the Law Enforcement Authority where the applicant (foreigner) was previously domiciled.
  3. Residence Visas will not be issued to-
    1. deportee
    2. a person overstaying beyond the given period
    3. a person who has committed an offence under the Immigration & Emigration Act, or
    4. a person against whom an adverse report has been received, unless the applicant has been cleared of such charge.
  4. Residence Visas will not be issued if the Controller/Immigration and Emigration is of the view that the presence of the applicant in the country is not in the interests of Sri Lanka. An appeal from such decision shall be available to the Minister in charge of Immigration, whose decision shall be final.
  5. An annulment of the marriage, which forms the basis of the grant of Residence Visas, will necessitate a re-application by the foreign spouse for a Residence Visa. In considering the application, the Controller/Immigration & Emigration will be guided by factors such as,
    1. The period of stay of the visa holder in the country,
    2. The age, number of children and status of the children of the union,
    3. The extent of material property belonging to the visa holder.
  6. Residence Visas will be issued to eligible spouses on the following basis:
    1. Initial issue of visa- 2 years
    2. Given the above conditions are satisfactorily fulfilled- 5 years
    3. At the end of the 7-year period of duration of the union, no further renewals of the visas would be necessary and the holder would be deemed to have acquired permanent Residence Visa status.
Controller Secretary
Immigration And Emigration Ministry of Interior
Being a foreign national who desires to travel through Sri Lanka as an incident of his/her journey.
Mode of Issue
Nationals of countries listed in Schedule 'A' are given endorsements at the port of entry in Sri Lanka. Others should obtain Transit Visas from Sri Lanka Missions abroad.
Period of Validity
Not exceeding 30 days.
Being a foreign national who desires to enter Sri Lanka, who holds a return air ticket and sufficient funds [currency/travelers cheques/credit card] for maintenance.
Mode of Issue
Bona fide tourists from the countries listed in Schedule 'A' are permitted entry upon arrival in Sri Lanka for 30 days stay. Those who visit for purposes other than holiday should obtain prior Visit Visas.
Nationals of countries not listed in Schedule 'A' should obtain prior Visit Visas whatever the purpose of visit is.
Period of Validity
  1. Not exceeding 90 days. (Initial issue)
  2. Extensions up to One year.
Guide Lines
The Resident Guest Scheme has been introduced by the Sri Lanka Government as a part of a package of incentives for prospective foreign investors and professionals who would contribute to the economic and socio-cultural development of the country.
Implementing Agency
The Implementing Agency of the Resident Guest Scheme consists of Senior Officials of the Relevant Government Agencies. The Office of the Implementing Agency is located at the Department of Immigration & Emigration [DIE], 23, Station Road, Colombo 04 Sri Lanka.
How to Apply
The Resident Guest Scheme is open to all foreign nationals. Any foreign investor/professional who could contribute to the economic and socio
  1. cultural enrichment of the country can make an application on form RGS I in quadruplicate.

Application forms are available from

  1. Office of the Implementing Agency [DIE]
  2. Sri Lanka Missions abroad or
  3. Download from the website
An application should be accompanied by the following documents.
  1. Photocopies of relevant pages of Passport (or Travel Document) that contain particulars of the applicant and dependents.
  2. Photocopy of the marriage certificate or marriage contract (if applicable)
  3. Six photographs (6 x 5 cm)
  4. Details of educational and professional qualifications and experience (if any) may be indicated in a separate sheet in quadruplicate.
Successful applicants will be required to undergo a medical examination and submit a report.
A qualified investor/professional can bring in his spouse, dependent children and the parents of the applicant and/or his spouse.
A potential foreign investor under this Scheme should remit a minimum of US $ 250,000 or an equivalent amount in any convertible foreign currency and deposit the funds in a special account in a commercial bank approved by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. If an investor intends to commence any investment project jointly with another foreign partner or partners, each such person should invest a minimum of US $ 250,000 or an equivalent amount in any convertible foreign currency. A further sum of US $ 35,000 should be deposited for each dependent accompanying the investor. Interest will be paid on any unutilized balance held in deposit at such rates as are determined by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka from time to time. Documentary evidence to confirm the remittances to Sri Lanka should be furnished.
In addition to the initial deposits, an investor should remit regularly sufficient funds for the upkeep of himself and his dependents.
A professional intending to reside in Sri Lanka under the scheme is required to remit, to a Special Bank Account in Sri Lanka for living expenses, a minimum of US$ 2,000/- per month for himself and US$ 1000/- per month for each of his dependents, including spouse.
Funds remitted to Sri Lanka by any foreign investor should be invested in an approved project. If no satisfactory progress is made by the applicant in making investment in the country within the first two years of his residence in Sri Lanka, the Implementing Agency may cease to make any further payments of interest on the credit balance in the Special Account of the investor.
Approved projects for the purpose of this Scheme are
  1. New ventures subject to approval by the Board of Investment or a relevant Authority.
  2. Existing or new companies subject to approval by the relevant authority.
  3. Shares listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange.
The Board of Investment will provide every assistance needed by the foreign investors to identify and make such investments.
Special Accounts
Foreign investors under this Scheme are permitted to open two separate special accounts in any commercial bank in Sri Lanka as described below
  1. Resident Guest Foreign Currency Account
    1. The remittances made to Sri Lanka for the purpose of making investments in any approved project in Sri Lanka should be credited to this account.
    2. The Bank will pay interest during the initial period of two years on the unutilized balance in the Account at a rate which will not exceed the rate applicable to Non Resident Foreign Currency Accounts. Payments of interest after the expiry of the two-year period will be subject to the approval of the Implementing Agency.
    3. Withdrawal form the Account for any purpose other than investment, should be approved by the Implementing Agency.
    4. Interest paid on the balance in this Account may be transferred to the "Resident Guest Rupee Current Account".
  2. Resident Guest Rupee Currency Account
    1. Remittances made for living expenses in Sri Lanka, income derived from investments, sale proceeds of shares, etc. will be permitted to be credited to this account.
    2. Outward remittances from the account will be subject to prior Exchange Control approval.
Repatriation of income capital
The following outward remittances are allowed under the prevailing Exchange Control and Tax regulations.
  1. Any unutilized balance in the special account of the investor.
  2. Capital gains and income from investment.
  3. Sale proceeds of investments.
In addition to the resident visa fees and taxes charged by the Controller of Immigration and Emigration, a sum of US $ 250 or an equivalent amount in any convertible currency should be paid to the Implementing Agency as application processing fee.
Duties of Resident Guests
Resident Guests are required to;
  1. Notify the Implementing Agency in writing of any material changes in particulars furnished in the application within two (2) months of such change.
  2. Comply with Immigration and Emigration formalities of the Sri Lanka Government.
  3. Comply with tax laws in Sri Lanka.
  4. Comply with all the other laws and regulations of Sri Lanka Government.
    Refrain from any political or other activity which is not in public interest or which might be prejudicial to the security of the country.
  5. Produce a Police clearance certificate from his country.
Termination of Investment Project/Professional Resident guests are required to:
  1. give the Implementing Agency two (2) months notice in writing of their intention to terminate their investment project/professional service.
  2. notify in writing of their intention to leave Sri Lanka at least Fourteen (14) working days prior to their departure upon termination of their investment project/professional service.
Grant of Citizenship
A Resident Guest who intends to obtain Sri Lankan Citizenship may apply to the Implementing Agency on completion of three (3) years of residence. Citizenship will be considered only on the basis of applicants contribution to the economic development and socio-cultural enrichment of the country during the period of residence. Application form designed for the purpose may be obtained from the office of the Implementing Agency [DIE].
Application processing fee may be sent by a Cheque/Bank Draft drawn in favour of the Controller, Immigration and Emigration.
Resident Visa valid for five years will be issued to successful applicant/spouse and dependents. Proof of satisfactory performance of the project investments, bank statements etc. will be called for when extensions visa is requested after the lapse of five years.
Documentary evidence for tax clearance from the Department of Inland Revenue and the recommendation from the Board of Investment in the case of tax exempted project should be furnished along with the renewal application.
Department of Immigration and Emigration
Sri Lanka