Blame Game Over Error Which Led To Sri Lankan Visa Fee Hike

The blame game between Sri Lanka and visa company VFS Global, over the doubling of the nation’s visa in April 2024 to $100 from $50, has not yet cooled down as both sides are still pointing fingers at each other.

By Mrinal
New Update

Sri Lankan government puts the blame on VFS Global's "technical issue" but VFS claims it was a "directive" from the govt.

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In April 2024, the cost of a Sri Lankan visa, which was around $50, doubled to price of $100. Though the increased price has now been cancelled and the initial amount of $50 has been reinstated starting May, the country blames the visa company handling the situation to be at fault.

The price of Sri Lankan visa doubled from $50 to $100 in April

According to the government, the problem with the pricing arose when the country transitioned from using the usual Electronic Travel Authorisations to an e-visa system operated by VFS Global, an international visa processing company. The government wanted to switch up from the usual ETAs because of the constant “hacking of the website by scammers”. With the shift to e-visas, the pricing of the visa was changed from $50 to $100, which caused an uproar amongst the tourists, raising question marks on the newly incorporated change.

Tourists and locals crowd a Sri Lankan beach - one of its main attraction points

The government, as a result, was forced to look into the matter and ultimately change the pricing back to $50 starting May 7, 2024. In an interview with CNBC, Harin Fernando, Minister of Tourism and Lands, Sri Lanka, stated that the problem was a “technical issue” on VFS Global’s end. He also mentioned how the global visa company erred when they “missed out on offering 30-day visas” at the beginning of their practice in the country.

Harin Fernando, Minister of Tourism and Lands, Sri Lanka

The accusations were, however, not taken lightly by VFS Global which claims itself to be an international visa company that has worked with 67 governments and operates in more than 150 countries. VFS Global has claimed that “Visa categories were introduced as per the directives of Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration and Emigration,” claiming that they only did what they were instructed to by the nation’s government.

VFS Global is an international visa company working with 67 governments and operating in more than 150 countries

The whole ordeal has angered various tourists as well as opposition leaders in the country who are claiming corruption to be a part of the deal. They are also unhappy about the $25 per visa that the government is allotting to VFS Global as a part of their contract. Speaking on the same, VFS Global said, “Service fee charges are approved by all governments and are determined based on various factors such as scope of the overall engagement, volume of applications expected, resource and infrastructure costs required to fulfil the Service Level Agreements etc. For example, in the case of Schengen countries, the service fee for short stay visa can go up to a maximum of 40 EUR.”

The tourists will now have to pay 50 USD as the visa price to visit the country

After much deliberation, the charges for the popular 30-day visas, which now cost $50, have been divided with the government keeping $40 and VFS Global taking home the rest. The government has also reminded travellers that they offer free visa to seven countries namely India, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, and Thailand, but the tourists will still have to pay the $10 fee charged by VFS Global.

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