What is the change? Sri Lanka’s Cabinet is considering amendments to its immigration laws that would address concerns by local professional associations about the high number of foreign professionals in the country.

What does the change mean? The regulations are expected to tighten the qualification requirements for foreign nationals and allow Sri Lankan professional associations to play a role in reviewing foreign professionals’ qualifications.

  • Implementation time frame: To be determined. The changes are in their preliminary stages and have not been passed or implemented.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work visas and residence visas for foreign workers.  
  • Who is affected: Foreign professionals working in Sri Lankan.
  • Impact on processing times: The legislation is also expected to streamline processing.
  • Business impact: Companies should anticipate stricter criteria and review of professional qualifications of foreign workers, likely resulting in a higher rate of denials of work visa applications.
  • Next steps: The Cabinet must approve the amendments, and the final law must be published in the Official Gazette before it can be implemented.

Background: Sri Lanka’s current immigration framework does not address qualifications of expatriate workers, but recent bilateral economic agreements the country has reached with India and Singapore have prompted concerns about larger numbers of foreign workers and how to regulate them.

BAL Analysis: If the amendments pass, they are expected to increase the vetting of foreign qualifications and lead to more selective issuance of work visas. At the same time, the changes are also intended to reduce processing red tape and expedite the residence visa process for expatriate professionals.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Sri Lanka. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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