Oct 20, Colombo: Sri Lanka's long-awaited amendments to the Immigration Act that facilitates the dual-citizenship process is held up by the Legal Draftsman, the Immigration and Emigration Controller Chulananda Perera says.
As a result of the delay in drafting the amendments to the Immigration Act by the Legal Draftsman, processing applications for the dual citizenship from the expatriate Sri Lankans by the Immigration and Emigration office has been severely impeded, the Controller says.
According to Perera Section 14 of the Immigration Act needs to be amended to accommodate the new tougher screening procedures proposed.
Authorities have submitted the draft legislation to the Attorney General's Department for review and the Attorney General has returned the draft with fine tuning within a month to the Immigration office with adjustments to be sent to the Legal Draftsman., the Controller told the state run Sunday Observer.
However, the Legal Draftsman is yet to put together the draft Amendment. Once the Legal Draftsman returns the final draft it will be submitted to parliament for approval.
Reportedly some 2,000 applications for dual citizenship are pending before the Immigration and Emigration Department.
Perera said those who have already applied for dual citizenship would have to re-apply once the new legislation is enacted.
Processing dual citizenship applications was suspended in early 2011 in order to draft the new stringent criteria.
Under the new criteria, a pre- examination procedure will be initiated to satisfy that a person applying for dual citizenship in Sri Lanka has fulfilled the requirements to make him eligible for such dual citizenship.
Accordingly, a Sri Lankan applicant holding a passport of another country will be given a permanent residency for five years first. After the five-year period the applicant will be eligible to receive the dual citizenship status.
The applicants are required to submit the details on how they have obtained the citizenship of the foreign country and they have to justify why they are seeking dual citizenship in Sri Lanka.
The information provided by the applicants will be verified with the respective overseas Sri Lankan missions and a panel of officials representing the Immigration and Emigration Department and other state stakeholder institutions will evaluate the application and the information before granting the permanent residency and dual status.
The dual citizenship scheme was introduced in 1987 and over 4,000 persons have been granted the facility.