Like most places in this over-populated world, Sri Lanka is now pretty strict about who
can work here. Of course if you’re a Sri Lankan citizen then there are no problems whatsoever- you can work anywhere for anyone. That is true for Sri Lankans who hold valid dual citizenship with another county as well. Just show up and get a job and you’re off and running!

However, many people looking to make the move to Sri Lanka will not be Sri Lankan citizens (any more). Prior citizenship does not help in this situation – you just need to get a valid Residence Visa like a non-citizen then. Luckily, it is possible to do that!

Dual Citizenship

In March 2015, the Immigration Department re-opened the Dual Citizenship after a four year suspension. It is open to a person whose citizenship of Sri Lanka has ceased (primarily due to obtaining citizenship of another country) or a person whose citizenship of Sri Lanka is likely to cease. The government clearly acknowledges the value that expat Sri Lankans can bring in, and actively encourages them to maintain strong connections with the country in terms of returning or investing.

There are six categories under which the application may be made, and these are based on age, professional/academic qualifications, asset ownership, investment and as the spouse/child of an applicant. The new process also requires that a Police Certificate be provided from the country of current overseas citizenship. A fee of Rs. 250,000 currently applies for the primary applicant.

For the most up-to-date information, instructions and the form, please visit:

What is a Residence Visa?

A Residence Visa is a permit for a non-Sri Lankan to obtain long term facilities for special purposes such as working, studying, living with Sri Lankan spouse, engaging in volunteer services, etc. It is issued to foreign nationals to whom it has been decided to extend residence facilities for the purpose of investment or otherwise, in circumstances where the prescribed authority is satisfied that their stay in Sri Lanka and the pursuit of their vocations are not prejudicial to the best interests of the Sri Lankan population.

OK great; how do I get one?

Prior to obtaining a Residence Visa you must arrive in Sri Lanka on an Entry Visa issued by a Sri Lanka Overseas Mission abroad with the concurrence of the Controller General of Immigration and Emigration. The fact that you wish to apply for Sri Lankan Residence Visa has to be mentioned when obtaining the entry visa and necessary supporting documents has to be submitted.

Its important to note that Visit Visas cannot be considered for conversion into Residence Visas.

What are the types of residence visas available?

Residence visas are granted for different classes of residence needs as listed below:

  • Investors and their dependents
  • Expatriate personnel who work in projects / companies under Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka and their dependents
  • Expatriate personnel whose services are required for projects approved by the state and their dependents
  • Expatriate personnel whose services are required for Private recognized organization and their dependents
  • Expatriate personnel who work in banks and their dependents
  • Members of the clergy
  • Religious workers and religious students
  • Foreign students in universities and other educational Institutions approved by the State
  • Ex-Sri Lankans and their dependents
  • Registered Indians and their dependents
  • Spouses of Sri Lankans and their dependents
  • Volunteers
  • Personnel attached to Non Governmental Organizations
  • Children of Sri Lankan born abroad holding foreign nationality
  • Expatriate personnel whose services are required for the projects, Institutions or Organizations under Diplomatic Mission in Sri Lanka and their dependents

No really, how do I get one?

Best way to get one is to find someone who wants to hire you and let them work through the process to get the visa sorted. In simple terms, if your potential employer is a BOI (Board of Investment) approved company or somehow part of an international organization, then its much easier than otherwise. Its still possible but your potential employer may have to work harder to get you to work for them!

FAQ on Immigration and Emigration processes in Sri Lanka

Source of information :  Department of Immigration and Emigration Sri Lanka

What is a Srilankan Visa?

A Srilankan visa is an endorsement on a passport or a similar document to facilitate the legal entry of non Srilankans into the country and to regulate the period of their stay and the conditions governing such stay.

What are the Types of Srilankan Visas that are available ?

There are four kinds of visas which permit a person to enter and/or stay in Sri Lanka.

Visit Visa –  A Visit Visa is an entry permit signifying the consent of the Sri Lankan Government for the admission of a foreign national to the country.  The Visa contains details of the period of time and the condition/s of the stay.

There are two sub-categories which come under visit visas :

A Tourist Visa is issued to bona-fide tourists who want to enter Sri Lanka for sightseeing, excursions, relaxation, visit relatives or yoga training for a short period of time.

A Business Purpose Visa is issued to foreign nationals who visit Sri Lanka for business purposes  for short period of time. This visa may be issued for single or double journeys. The facility for applying Business Purpose Visa is at present available only at the Head Office of the Department of Immigration & Emigration, the Sri Lankan Overseas Missions and on-arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) and Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA)

“My Dream Home Visa” Programme –  what is this?

It is for senior foreign nationals who wish to a prolonged stay in Sri Lanka on Residence

What are the eligibility requirements for Dream Home visa scheme ?

  • Any foreign national over 55 years of age
  • Should remit US$15000 or the equivalent in an approved foreign currency and deposit them in a fixed deposit account in an approved any bank in Sri Lanka.And
  • A monthly remittance of US$ 1500 or the equivalent in an approved foreign currency for the principal applicant and US$ 750 or the equivalent in an approved foreign currency for each spouse and dependent child* for their upkeep (if accompanied by spouse/children) in a savings or current account in an approved any bank in Sri Lanka. *under 18 years and unmarried
  • For more information on this programme visit :
  • Resident Guest Visa Programme
  • How can I apply for Srilankan visa under this programme ?

How can I apply for Srilankan visa under this programme ?

The Resident Guest Scheme is open to all foreign nationals. Any foreign investor / professional who could contribute to the economic and socio cultural enrichment of the country can apply

What is the maximum validity period of my Resident Guest Scheme visa ?

Your RGS Visa will be valid for five years

Can I bring my family with me if I get visa under this programme ?

Yes, If you are a qualified investor or professional you can bring in your spouse, dependent children and your parents or parents of your spouse

For more information on this visit :

Who are eligible for Visa Exemptions?

  • Srilankan dual citizens.
  • Children whose birth has been registered under section 5(2) of Citizenship Act – 1948  upto 21 years of age.
  • Children born in Sri Lanka for Srilankan parents under 21 years of age.

What are the general eligibility requirements for a Srilankan Visa?

  • Sri Lanka Immigration and Emigration may grant or issue a visa to you if
  • Sri Lanka Immigration & Emigration is satisfied that you are suitable to enter Sri Lanka.
  • Sri Lanka Immigration & Emigration approves the purpose for which you are entering Sri Lanka.
  • You hold a passport valid for a minimum period of six months from the date you arrive in Sri Lanka.
  • Sri Lanka Immigration & Emigration is satisfied that you have adequate funds for your maintenance whilst in Sri Lanka and for the payment of your return passage to the country which issued your passport.
  • You are in possession of a written assurance (ticket) to return to the country of domicile or a visa to the next country of destination if you are a visit visa holder

What are the general conditions of a Visit Visa?

  • You should not engage in any form of employment, paid or unpaid, or in any trade or business other than that specified in the visa during the period of your stay in Sri Lanka.
  • Your visa must be utilized before the date of expiry noted on the visa.
  • Validity of your visa is subject to entry into Sri Lanka during the indicated entry period.
  • Applications for the extension of all visas should be made to the Department of Immigration and  Emigration.