Extortion scam by immigration officers

immigration      After a short and pleasant flight on Srilankan Air Lines, 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?”

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.

When I approached the officer, he asked me how long I was staying in Sri Lanka. This officer did not want to take my visa or my money and referred me to another officer in a white uniform. 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 hope this article will encourage Sri Lanka officials to investigate. Sri Lanka is a beautiful destination with many dedicated people doing a fantastic job with pride to showcase their country.

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