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New Immigration and Emigration Act enacts soon

Government will enact a new Immigration and Emigration Act this year to meet the present needs both nationally and internationally replacing the present Act which was promulgated in 1948.

The existing Act was introduced in an era when the volume of international movements was limited and a majority of arrivals were by sea.

Following the enactment of the new Act the existing Act will be repealed as it is archaic.

The new Act provides provisions for border management activities including visas for entry for non-Sri Lankans to the country, inland immigration, detention and removal.

According to the Immigration and Emigration Department, the existing Act is archaic and lacks teeth to tackle the current mobility of persons in and out of Sri Lanka, including the skills deficits and labour shortages in the labour market, and the demographic transitions of the local population.

The proposed new Act will be effective in addressing issues relating to mobility of persons including migrant rights, skills development, human trafficking, forced labour and modern slavery, migration status, reintegration, migrant health, voting rights and governance in migration.

It will cover border management activities including visas for entry for non-Sri Lankans to the country, inland immigration, detention and removal.

The proposed law also deals with the departure of Sri Lankans and passport issuance as well.

All immigration and emigration matters including the use of electronic systems to grant visa, biometrics, processing applications and back end monitoring system, have been covered under the new Act, an immigration official said.

A separate visa category to facilitate employment of foreign nationals will be introduced while allowing the domestic labour market to benefit from the large proportion of foreign students that reside in Sri Lanka.

The new law will be facilitating family members of diplomatic and employment purpose resident visa holders to contribute to the local labour market, he added.

The proposed new Act will impact on the more than two million Sri Lankans who are employed in West Asia, Asia, Europe and the US. A large percentage over 1 million is employed in West Asia and often have problems in workplaces, especially domestic workers.

These proposed laws will also cover a sizable number of foreign workers, particularly Chinese and Indians, working mostly on construction projects. There are also many illegals, which is dealt with under the proposed Act

(LI)

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