15 December, 2019

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Beware Travelers To Sri Lanka Of Extortion Scam By Immigration Officers

A traveler’s experience – on arrival visa and fraud at Colombo International Airport

By Jurgent T. Steinmetz  –

After a short and pleasant flight on SriLankan Airllines, the national airline for Sri Lanka, from the Maldives, I arrived at Colombo International Airport.

Immigration forms were given to passengers on this flight. I had the form filled out and after disembarking approached the immigration counter. The officer looked at my form and passport and asked, “Where is your visa?”

Photo © J. T. Steinmetz

No one had explained onboard or at check-in that a visa was required to enter Sri Lanka as a tourist, but luckily there was a visa on arrival desk, and I qualified to get a visa on arrival.

I looked for a sign explaining visa fees but was unable to find such posted information.

I got in line and noticed some people paid US$20, others US$25, and others US$35.

When I approached the officer, he asked me how long I was staying in Sri Lanka. I responded that I would stay for only 2 days. This officer did not want to take my visa or my money and referred me to another officer in a white uniform. He seemed to be a supervisor.

The officer asked me twice if I was really staying for only 2 days, and then he escorted me to another officer at the immigration counter.

He asked me to pay just US$20 in cash to his colleague, and after taking my money, this officer stamped my passport and gave me a permit to stay for 48 hours.

After checking into the Colombo Hilton, I went online and pulled up the information page for Sri Lanka immigration and found out that the regular tourist visa rate was US$25, and for stays of 2 days or less a free permit was issued.

In the 20 minutes I was in line, I observed many tourists paying varied visa fees at the bank and to immigration officials directly.

I decided to call the Immigration department and explained what happened. After 5 calls, and someone hanging up on me quietly again and again, I managed to find a phone number for the Controller and Supervisor.

This time a person listened to everything I had to say, but strangely did not want my name or other details. He promised a full-scale investigation.

I hope this article will encourage Sri Lanka officials to investigate. Posting clear signs at the visa on arrival center would make it more difficult for corrupt officials to extort money from tourists and their governments.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful destination with many dedicated people doing a fantastic job with pride to showcase their country. It is my understanding that money generated from visa fees are to go to improve the infrastructure of the country, not to line the greedy pockets of a few traitors operating with a uniform.

*This story appeared in ETN Globle  Travel Industry news on May 19, 2013

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Latest comments

  • 0
    1

    Welcome to Rajapakistan aka Sri Lanka where corruption is rife.

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    Sri Lanka immigration officials accepted eTN’s suggestion to correct tourist visa on arrival procedure:

    eTurboNews recently reported about its publisher’s experience with an extortion scam by Sri Lanka Immigration Officers.
    eTN is now pleased to report that due to our article, the Controller General team of the Sri Lanka Department of Immigration and Emigration, Mr. W.A.C. Perera reached out to eTN Publisher Juergen T. Steinmetz and confirmed the following:

    1) The Immigration Officer listed on your arrival records has been suspended, pending a full inquiry and investigation.

    2) You will most likely be requested to appear at a hearing at a future date. Please let us know if you can indicate at which point you may be able to travel to Colombo so the hearing can be scheduled at a time and date convenient to you.

    3) Incorporating your suggestions, signs clearly explaining the various visa fees have been posted at the Bandaranaike International Airport Arrival Counters.

    He went on to say, “We deeply regret this unfortunate experience and will continue to strive to ensure such incidents do not occur to travelers visiting Sri Lanka.
    “The DIE [Department of Immigration & Emigration] truly appreciates your honest and productive feedback and for your article which brought this incident to our attention.”

    Juergen T. Steinmetz said: “I am very pleased the Sri Lanka immigration officials are handling this situation in a very professional and efficient way. Putting up signs with visa fees is a good step forward to avoid such confusion at the immigration check-point at Colombo airport.

    “Sri Lanka is a fantastic tourism destination, and the first impression when arriving at any destination is always of utmost importance.

    “I congratulate the Sri Lanka authorities on taking my small complaint serious. My complaint was not directed against one particulare officer, but more a suggestion on how this type of activity could be avoided. I am very pleased the authorities in Sri Lanka took my suggestion seriously and acted so quickly. It indicates the patriotism of dedicated leaders like Mr. W.A.C. Perera and many of the Sri Lanka tourism professionals I had met over the years.”

    http://www.eturbonews.com/35101/sri-lanka-immigration-officials-accepted-etns-suggestion-correct

    ——–

    BTW – If the Colombo Telegraph were to run the above article would they get 95 responses?
    Naaah. We are Sri Lankans no?

  • 0
    0

    eTurboNews recently reported about its publisher’s experience with an extortion scam by Sri Lanka Immigration Officers.

    eTN is now pleased to report that due to our article, the Controller General team of the Sri Lanka Department of Immigration and Emigration, Mr. W.A.C. Perera reached out to eTN Publisher Juergen T. Steinmetz and confirmed the following:

    1) The Immigration Officer listed on your arrival records has been suspended, pending a full inquiry and investigation.

    2) You will most likely be requested to appear at a hearing at a future date. Please let us know if you can indicate at which point you may be able to travel to Colombo so the hearing can be scheduled at a time and date convenient to you.

    3) Incorporating your suggestions, signs clearly explaining the various visa fees have been posted at the Bandaranaike International Airport Arrival Counters.

    He went on to say, “We deeply regret this unfortunate experience and will continue to strive to ensure such incidents do not occur to travelers visiting Sri Lanka.

    “The DIE [Department of Immigration & Emigration] truly appreciates your honest and productive feedback and for your article which brought this incident to our attention.”

    Juergen T. Steinmetz said: “I am very pleased the Sri Lanka immigration officials are handling this situation in a very professional and efficient way. Putting up signs with visa fees is a good step forward to avoid such confusion at the immigration check-point at Colombo airport.

    “Sri Lanka is a fantastic tourism destination, and the first impression when arriving at any destination is always of utmost importance.

    “I congratulate the Sri Lanka authorities on taking my small complaint serious. My complaint was not directed against one particulare officer, but more a suggestion on how this type of activity could be avoided. I am very pleased the authorities in Sri Lanka took my suggestion seriously and acted so quickly. It indicates the patriotism of dedicated leaders like Mr. W.A.C. Perera and many of the Sri Lanka tourism professionals I had met over the years.”

    *This story appeared in ETN Globle Travel Industry news on May 24, 2013

    • 0
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      Mr.W.A.C. Perera,

      As long as a Tourist have a valid Passport with the valid issue and expiry date, you do not have to worry about them. Now the Terrorism is gone other than someone trying to create one to stay in power eternally.

      Also please note that Sri Lanka is not the only country in the world with nice Beaches. There are plenty and more if you search internet. There are cruise lines which offer 4 day cruises visiting 4 destinations including endless food and room for US $ 400.00.per person.Please check Royal Caribian Cruise Lines and other internet search engines.

      Therefore Sri Lanka has to compete hard to attract more tourists and not to give them unwanted headaches at arrival. Charging three times more …like Pinnawela, Peradeniya Gardens and many others from Tourists than from Locals is not correct unless you provide something extra for them. Atleast a small gift or a T shirt.

      Finally at Arrival Loungue many times I had to stand and wait to meet my friends due to not availability of Seats. After paying 150 rupees, I expect you to provide sufficient chairs at the arrival loungue where other countries they are FREE. I filled up the complain form about this but do not see your attention.

      Please do your home work before talking about getting down 2.6 million tourists in 2016. You built the wrong airport at the wrong place. Sad to say Colombo Airport is a Vintage one . Too late. Good luck.

  • 0
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    When my Brother in law family visited SriLanka in August of 2013, and were waiting in line to get their visa, one imm. officer from different counter asked them to come to his counter. When they approached, he asked them when was the last time they visited SL and they said 20 years ago. Then the officer asked them if they could speak singhalese and they said a little. Then as he was holding their passport in his hand, asked have you brought any thing for us. My B.I.L looked puzzled and the officer realised that he didn’t have any idea of what he was asking, told them to buy him 2 JW Black label wisky. He kept their kids passport with him and gave 2 passport to my B.I.L to go to the duty free shop and buy the 2 bottles. After my B.I.L gave him the 2 bottles only he gave them their passports. When we told our friends in Colombo, they were not surprised. They said this has been happening for a long time and said most of the officers are corrupt. They target young families with kids.

  • 0
    0

    this ashore does not no what the visa fee is Evan after visiting the http://www.eta.gov.lk .

    I think this asshole should charge $35, other than $20. that is the standard price for tourist visa on arrival counter. I think immigration officer is charge him only transit passages visa fee, which is $20.

    I travel many times Sri Lanka it is like my second home. refer government web site http://www.eta.gov.lk or visa on arrival counter. fees are clearly listed their at their.

    shame for you ass hole.

  • 0
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    i think this as-hole should charge $35 other than $20. seems to me immigration officer is charge lesser than actual amount which is $35. which is good for his. this idiot does know that.

    fees are clearly listed their in the government web http://www.eta.gov.lk and the visa on arrival counter.

    i travel many time to sri lanka It is like second home to me. Shame for you ass hole.

  • 0
    0

    A lovely country which getting a reputation for stealing from foreigners without any regrets. There is a big job for the Government Police etc – assuming they can be trusted not to steal – otherwise the country will be described as not worth visiting!

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