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Sri Lanka seeks  support from Singapore team to improve immigration system

May 31, Colombo (LNW): A six-member delegation from Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) is in Sri Lanka to conduct a comprehensive study of airport and immigration department operating systems.

“The purpose of this visit is to provide cooperation to improve Sri Lanka’s immigration system by achieving the same standards as Singapore and integrating advanced technology,” the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement.

“This will greatly contribute to Sri Lanka’s efforts to modernize and improve all processes related to immigration, visa issuance and citizenship.”

The team, who are here after Minister Tiran Alas requested Singapore Minister for Law K Shanmugam’s help, will provide a detailed report on recommendations to bring the existing system on par with that of Singapore.

Sri Lanka recently controversially outsourced its visa handling function to VFS Global, which requires the payment of “processing” and “convenience” charges of 26 dollars, even though the government does not collect any fees.

Maldivian authorities have reminded Sri Lanka of the long-standing bilateral agreement under which their citizens could travel freely between the two neighbours without any charges or bureaucratic barriers.

Singapore is another country which could take action against Sri Lanka if the bilateral deal is found to be violated, according to a source .

There are only a handful of countries to which Sri Lankan passport holders can travel without any visa restrictions.

The move comes amid repeated complaints on overcrowded immigration desks at the main Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).

The ICA is responsible for securing Singapore’s borders against the entry of undesirable people and cargo through land, air and sea checkpoints.

It also administers immigration and registration services, such as issuing passports and Identity Cards to Singapore citizens, and immigration passes and permits to foreigners.

The ICA enforces laws and regulations relating to immigration and registration and is under the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs.

“I have asked Singapore government to study our airport and immigration to modernise them to the standards of Singapore and to give us a report on that,” Alles told reporters at a media briefing 

“They are from Singapore Immigration Checkpoint Authority. I personally spoke to the minister in charge. This was about six months back. Last week also when I was there, I had a meeting with him and they will do a complete study and give us a report.”

“Then they will give us a comprehensive report. We may not be able to do this at once. But we have to target to bring the standard to that level,” the Minister said.

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