Introduction of "Electronic Travel Authorization - ETA" Visa to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s Immigration and Emigration Controller Chulananda Perera met the media personnel Yesterday in the morning at the Colombo Intercontinental Hotel to explain the introduction of a system called "Electronic Travel Authorization - ETA" in order to grant prior approval for visa via online for foreign nationals instead of the presently implemented 'on arrival visa' at the ports of entry.
Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration and Emigration has made an urgent announcement that , the online arrival visa facility (Visit Visa, Transit Visa) will remain unchanged until the internet based on-line visa service (Electronic Travel Authority) is established. The general public and the stakeholders will be duly notified when the ETA system is operationally ready.
The new system is to be introduced on September 30, by the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa with the participation of several distinguished guests including foreign ambassadors and the Controller General of Immigration and Emigration.
Accordingly, foreign nationals visiting the country on purposes of tourism affairs, medical treatments, sports, cultural shows, business conferences and discussions, training programmes and seminars can apply for the Electronic Travel Authorization via www.eta.gov.lk established in the Department of Immigration and Emigration.
Sri Lanka presently grants visa on arrival at the port of entry to nationals from 78 countries. Though this system will be done away with the introduction of ETA, the previous method of granting visas on arrival at the airport free of charge to the nationals from the Maldives and Singapore is still in effective as a reciprocal gesture. Only an administration fee has been prescribed for this 'Electronic Travel Authorization ETA.
The ETA is a web-based system that grants a person permission to travel to Sri Lanka. “It is not a visa in itself, but an approval for travel,” explained the Immigration and Emigration Controller Chulananda Perera. The visa will be stamped on the passport in arrival here; but the passenger will have to log in ahead, and have the authorisation.
It will cost the passenger US $50 (for a tourist visa with double entry for 30 days), US $60 (business visa with multiple entries for 30 days) or US $ 25 (for transit visa with single entry for seven days). The fee has to be paid online. “The ETA will be approved in minutes. In some cases it could take longer. But no application will take longer than 24 hours,” said R.M.S. Sarath Kumar, Controller (Visa).
Access to basic information in this regard in nine international languages would be a great convenience to foreigners. However, applications should be forwarded only in English language and six methodologies have been introduced to facilitate forwarding of the applications i.e. applications can be forwarded by the applicant him/herself by a third party on behalf of the applicant, through a registered agency, through Sri Lankan embassies or through the head office of the Department of Immigration and Emigration, and a foreigner who was unable to obtain prior approval by the above procedures, can visit Sri Lanka after obtaining prior approval by forwarding the application and making the relevant fee to the counter established in Sri Lankan access point which he/she has landed in.
According to this new visa granting system, since air and ship crew are exempted from obtaining prior approval for the visa, the old system will be in effect as before Foreigners, who visit Sri Lanka.
- Asian Tribune -