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Immigration and Emigration Department staff shortage delays passport issuance  

May 24, Colombo (LNW): Immigration and Emigration Department is facing a shortage of Sri Lanka Administrative Service (SLAS) officers, worsening the timely issuance of passports. Informed sources said. .

10-12 more SLAS officers are needed to expedite the processing of passport applications at the department as there was a significant backlog to issue passports, with thousands of applicants yet to receive their passports 

Passport applicants who have used the online application process and submitted their fingerprints at the relevant local district offices  had to wait  for long periods about delays in the delivery of their passports. There are also reports of delays in handing in and processing ‘one-day service’ applications for passports.

Thousands of Sri Lankans are compelled to wait for long periods to receive new passports as the Immigration and Emigration Department works through a backlog of applications amid high demand for international travel.

The online passport application processing system operates in snail pace as a result of data entry delay in the system and the lack of top level SLAS officers at the department to handle authoritative functions, official sources said.  .

This fully computerised system launched last year has now become cumbersome for applicants as they had to visit relevant Assistant Government agents offices located far away from their homes to place their finger prints, several applicants complained.    

Even after submitting fingerprints to the department’s head office, it will take one to 3 months or more to issue passports, they said.

Some of them noted that they are still to receive passports after downloading all documents to the department’s online system and making payments three months ago.   

A disgruntled applicant who applied for an urgent service said that she received the date of submitting fingerprints one month after paying Rs. 15000 for this service. She said that she had to pay additional Rs.400 as expedient fee.   

Another applicant who applied for a normal service is yet to receive the new passport after more than three months following his payment of Rs. 5000 for normal service

These applicants expressed their concern on the operation of an online system which was introduced for the benefit of the people with a view of providing speedy and efficient service.

It has become an always break down service compelling the people to visit Immigration and Emigration Department in Battaramulla to hand over documents for manual service, they said.      

One applicant who applied for an urgent passport service received the passport via courier after 14 days from the day of submitting fingerprints even though he paid Rs. 15,000 for the urgent service.

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