A new visa extension is being announced by the Sri Lanka government, with the government announcing the extension of a prepaid visa program for some foreign nationals working in Sri Lanka.
The new policy is designed to ease restrictions imposed on the country’s citizens who had been unable to obtain work permits since the onset of the countrys economic crisis.
The announcement was made during the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between the government and the World Bank on Thursday.
Sri Lanka’s government said the extension will allow about 8,000 foreign nationals, including about 10,000 temporary workers, to stay in the country without restrictions, a condition of the agreement.
The memorandum of understand will allow the government to hire about 2,000 workers to replace those who were not allowed to stay because they had been issued a pre-existing work permit.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the new policy would allow a small group of foreigners who were still under the economic blockade to work.
“I want to reiterate that the country is in a good state.
Our economy is expanding at a healthy pace, the economy is growing and the number of businesses is increasing,” Rajapakasa said.
“We have a large number of foreign workers who can now work here, they will be able to do their jobs and have the necessary permits.”
Under the memorandum of agreement signed Thursday, which is the first since the end of the Sri Lankan economic crisis in March, the country will extend the visa program from March 20, 2020, to June 30, 2020.
The agreement also gives the government the authority to issue a preregistered work permit for some workers who are not already registered.
Under the new agreement, a work permit issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will cover up to six months of the workers’ stay in Sri Lank.
The new policy will also allow foreign nationals who were previously issued work permits to work up to 40 hours per week, as long as they remain at least six months.
The government has not specified what specific requirements will apply for the work permits.
The memorandum of accord signed with the World Health Organization on June 25 allows for temporary visas for up to 30 days for individuals, including those who have been granted a work permits, but only if they are willing to work for up.
Those who are unable to work due to health conditions, or those with certain medical conditions, can apply for a temporary work permit from the Health Ministry.
The country has been hit by a series of economic disasters since the beginning of the economic crisis, including the 2011 coronavirus pandemic, which killed thousands of people in Sri Sri Lanka, and the 2015 Ebola pandemic.