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Dual Citizenship of Sri Lanka

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Posted by Madhu Warnakulasuriya on : Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Sri Lankan government announced that it would suspend the dual citizenship scheme without giving any reason. More than 3,500 people of Sri Lankan origin who hold citizenship in foreign countries have enjoyed the dual citizenship status so far. The cases of a further 750 applicants, who want to obtain dual citizenship as Sri Lankans, are still pending.

The Department of Immigration Sri Lanka had said that the existing dual citizenship scheme had not benefited the country. In some instances, people holding dual citizenship as Sri Lankans had returned to Sri Lanka only to buy properties and avoid paying higher taxes.

At present, a person seeking dual citizenship in Sri Lanka is required to hold a university degree or at least a two-year diploma. They are required to have a deposit of Rs 2.5 million for over a year in a bank account in Sri Lanka. In the alternative, they are required to adduce proof of wealth including land in Sri Lanka valued at Rs 2.5 million. Holders of Non Resident Foreign Currency (NRFC) accounts with US $ 25,000 also qualify. Another category who are granted dual Sri Lankan citizenship are persons of stature.

The main applicant, according to the scheme now suspended, is required to pay Rs 200,000. The spouse and children under 18 years are required to pay Rs 50,000 each.

The new criteria will ensure those seeking dual Sri Lankan citizenship make a contribution to the country`s economy. The main purpose of this review was to carefully select people who would help Sri Lanka with no hidden agendas.

Foreign nationals now holding dual citizenship in Sri Lanka are to have their status reviewed. For this purpose they will be required to face an interview where their eligibility under new criteria will be examined.

The senior citizens and professionals would be among those given special preference for dual citizenship.

What is Dual Citizenship?

Under usual circumstances, when a Sri Lankan acquires the citizenship of another country, he/she automatically loses his/her Sri Lankan citizenship. However it is possible for an individual to -

  1. Retain Sri Lankan citizenship when acquiring the citizenship of a foreign country. This is called Retention of Citizenship.
  2. Resume Sri Lankan citizenship at a later point of time; after losing it when acquiring the citizenship of a foreign country. This is called Resumption of Citizenship.

An individual who has citizenship in both Sri Lanka and a foreign country is considered a dual citizen of Sri Lanka.

UNDER THE CURRENT SUSPENDED SCHEME:

Who can apply For Sri Lankan Dual Citizenship?

An ex-Sri Lankan now holding foreign Citizenship of a foreign country or a Sri Lankan qualified to receive citizenship of a foreign country, who may contribute to the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka and who belongs to one of the following categories:

  1. Professional
  2. Senior Citizen
  3. Wealth
  4. Fixed Deposit
  5. NRFC/RFC/SFIDA/ Dual Citizenship Accounts Holder
  6. Investor on Treasury Bonds TIERA and TIERA - D

How can you apply for retention of Sri Lankan citizenship?

You can apply for dual citizenship in Sri Lanka prior to obtaining the citizenship of another country, if

  1. You are Sri Lankan by descent or by registration
  2. You are holding a permanent resident status of another country
  3. You wish to apply for the citizenship of that country

List of Countries where Sri Lankan Dual Citizenship is accepted

Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, United States of America, Canada

Can the family members of the main applicant apply too?

Yes. The main applicant's spouse and unmarried children below 18 years of age may also apply for Sri Lankan Dual Citizenship with the main applicant. Additional fee per member will be charged.

What are the Documents Required to be submitted with the Application

  1. Original Birth Certificate of the Applicant.
  2. If the applicant is a citizen of Sri Lanka by registration, the relevant certificate.
  3. If the applicant is married, the Marriage Certificate.
  4. Foreign Citizenship Certificate, Foreign Travel Document or Permanent Residence Visa of the Applicant.
  5. Applicant's most recent Sri Lankan passport, previous Sri Lankan Passports (if any) or an affidavit stating non-availability of a Sri Lankan Passport. Please submit photocopies of the above documents along with the originals.)

Additional Compulsory Documents Required under Each Category

Where can you obtain an application Form?

To download printable versions of application forms: http://www.immigration.gov.lk

How can you submit the applications?

Mail to the following address by Registered Post.

The Controller General
Department of Immigration and Emigration,
Citizenship Division,
41, Ananda Rajakaruna Mw,
Colombo 10,
Sri Lanka

* At present there are some 3,300 such applicants seeking approval and only about 620 have been cleared and sent for final approval by Sri Lankan President who is also the Defence Minister.

MADHU WARNAKULASURIYA,
BARRISTER AND SOLICITOR,
warnalegal@gmail.com

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