Approximately 1,000 a day seek visas, passports 

  • Immigration Dept. requests public to visit only if urgent 

BY Dinitha Rathnayake 

Around 1,000 persons visit the Immigration and Emigration Department on a daily basis for their visa and passport related requirements despite the ongoing quarantine curfew lockdown status imposed in the country owing to the spread of Covid-19, and Departmental sources told The Morning that many locals are seeking to migrate due to the country’s dire economic situation.

Immigration and Emigration Controller General (CG) and the Commissioner for the Registration of Persons of Indian Origin, U.V. Sarath Rupasiri, speaking to The Morning, said that at present, the Department is offering the one day passport service, visa extension and citizenship.

“However, sometimes it is difficult to manage this crowd due to our limited staff. We had around 1,200 staffers on a daily basis before Covid-19, but at the moment, we only have the service of 200 staff members coming according to a time table. Therefore, since some of the people who visit the Department don’t have an urgent requirement, we ask the public to come when their requirement is an urgent need”.

Rupasiri noted that certain persons also come to get their passports without having any valid reason, which he noted, could in turn pose a risk to their lives due to the prevailing pandemic situation. “Most of the people have to stay in queues before they enter into the Department premises, and therefore, this can pose a risk to their life. Therefore, due to the spread of Covid-19, I urge the people not to visit the Department unless it is for an extremely urgent requirement.” 

Around 3,000 persons visited the Immigration and Emigration Department on a daily basis before the pandemic. 

It is also learnt from Departmental sources that most Sri Lankans who are migrating at present are doing so due to the current dire economic situation in the country.