Guidelines on Issuance of Visas and Work Permits for Expatriates working and seeking to work in Voluntary Social Service Organizations/NGOs

As the number of foreign expatriates working in voluntary Social Service Organizations/NGOs who visit Sri Lanka to help affected people has rapidly increased over the last few years consequent to the natural disasters that occurred in Sri Lanka, the Government of Sri Lanka has identified that the procedures for the issuance of visas and work permits to these expatriates need to be streamlined.

While acknowledging the contribution made by NGOs/INGOs operating in Sri Lanka towards reconstruction and rehabilitation activities during the disaster periods, the Government of Sri Lanka has introduced a set of new guidelines for strict compliance in granting of visas to expatriates attached to those NGOs/INGOs.

Following are some of the key requirements laid down in the new guidelines :

  • All Voluntary Social Service Organizations/NGOs registered under the Voluntary Social Service Organizations Act No. 31 of 1980 and wish to obtain visas should submit their NGOs/INGOs registration certificate and MoU signed with Government of Sri Lanka to the Department of Immigration and Emigration for the registration of the organization.
  • Visa will only be processed for the organizations fulfil the above requirement.
  • All foreign nationals who intend to work in NGO/INGO in Sri Lanka should apply for prior visa/entry visa following the new procedure.
  • Residence visas are issued by the Controller-General of Immigration and Emigration for the expatriates who are holding entry visas on the recommendation of the Director of National Secretariat for Non-Governmental Organizations, subject to a minimum period of one year. Any extensions of Residence visa for expatriates to work in Sri Lanka beyond first one year will not exceed three years.
  • Foreign nationals holding tourist visas are not recommended or considered for granting of Residence visas.

Comprehensive details on the new procedures could be obtained from the Consular Division of the Sri Lanka Consulate General.

It may be noted that the granting or rejection or termination of visas is at the sole discretion of the Controller General, Immigration and Emigration as per the Section 14 of the Immigrants and Emigrants Act No. 20 of 1948 and Immigrants and Emigrants Regulations.