Unofficial websites in Lanka visa scam
Posted on March 26th, 2017

By Leon Berenger Courtesy Ceylon Today

Thousands of foreign visitors arriving in the country are being ripped-off by several  unofficial off-shore based websites who are handling Lankan landing visas in exchange for staggering fees, while the authorities in Colombo remain helpless, it was revealed yesterday.

An unknown number of websites or even more are currently in operation and are known to be handling thousands of Sri Lankan visit visas to unsuspecting foreign clients, Immigration and Emigration Chief Nihal Ranasinghe said yesterday.

He added that these websites collect the necessary data from the client and later formalize the visa procedure through the government portal. They are known to charge three times or more the stipulated fee for a landing visa, he added.

The government fee for a visit visa for travellers from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is between US$ 20 and 30 and US$ 35-40 elsewhere.

“We have created an awareness campaign on this issue through all stakeholders including the Travel and Trade industry and even in Lankan missions overseas.

Those intending to visit the country should exercise extra caution and take time out to visit the government website at www.eta.gov.lk and verify for themselves the rules and regulations and the criteria qualifying a potential visitor for a visa.

It is a simple process, but instead a large number of travellers are dependent on middlemen to handle their travel plans . At the end of the day they pay more for the same service offered by the government,” Ranasinghe added.

He warned that unsuspecting clients also run the risk of being cheated, adding that there have been instances in which they have been stopped at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) because their documents were not in order.

In a sequel to these developments, the authorities are now in the process of introducing a new online visa registration system that should come into effect before too long, he said.

He added the new system will also take into consideration various security aspects while leaving zero opportunities for abuse and other malpractices. This is a matter of national interest, he said without elaborating. “These foreigners, mainly from East Bloc nations in Europe, are known to overstay their visas and engage in various nefarious activities. the issue has now blown out of proportion” C.A.H.M. Wijeyrathna, head of the Legal Division at the Foreign Office told Ceylon Today.

Some of these foreigners even enjoy high level diplomatic patronage from their respective embassies in Colombo who even tend to intervene on their behalf when there is an issue.

Besides this , they even go to the extent of hiring local lawyers to argue immigration and other laws of the country when they are apprehended, Wijeyrathna added.

He said the relevant authorities including the police, Immigration and even the Foreign Ministry are currently monitoring the movements of these persons and steps will shortly be introduced to curb this menace.

One Response to “Unofficial websites in Lanka visa scam”

  1. Nimal Says:

    Hello Leon!
    Are you related to my aunt Joyce Berenger,or Berengers that once owned the Candos Chocolates or the Berangers that owned the present Cylinco group or are you from the Beranger family once liveed in Kandy?.

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