Digital Nomad Visa goes before Cabinet again

  • New proposal likely to be submitted on Monday

  • ICTA brought into screen applications, ensures no cyber threats

  • Original annual visa fee of $ 500 amended to $ 300; $ 50 for monthly extensions remain

  • Immigration and Emigration Department says all set to issue visas, awaiting final green light

By Charumini de Silva

The Tourism Ministry will present a fresh Cabinet proposal on a Digital Nomad Visa next week, which seeks to cover and clarify all aspects of the move aimed at catering to a growing segment of tourists who travel around the world and work online. In July, the Cabinet of Ministers cleared a proposal to offer visas for foreign visitors looking to work remotely and stay in Sri Lanka for long periods. The move came in the wake of the country being ranked second-best for Digital Nomads in 2021 by the influential French travel and tourism operator – Club Med. Fast forward three-months, the Daily FT learns that the Government is yet to decide and implement a system to promote the inflow of foreign exchange to the economy. The implementation of the Digital Nomad Visa was originally assigned to Sri Lanka Tourism and the Immigration and Emigration Department, but now the Information Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) too has been roped in. “ICTA was brought into screen the applications and to protect from any possible cyber threats,” a top official said, explaining the rationale of adding the ICTA to the process of issuing Digital Nomad visas. “The agency will scrutinise the authenticity of the applicants and will ensure that the issuance of these visas will not eat into the job market in the country,” the official added. It was further explained that the systems which would be implemented with the submission of the new Cabinet paper were on par with global best practices and was similar to the framework implemented in other countries that issue long-term Digital Nomad visas. As per the new Cabinet proposal, the first-year visa fee will be $ 300 up to one year, with a fee of $ 50 for each month extended. However, if the foreigner wants to extend the visa for the second year, it will be $ 500. Following a feasibility study, Sri Lanka Tourism had originally proposed that the visa fee be $ 500 up to one year and $ 50 for each month extended. However, this time the authorities have recognised that the families who come with Digital Nomad visa holders must be considered and thus have decided to issue them with a one-year Residential Visa at $ 100. The official pointed out that under the new system, it would be easy to monitor the prime visa holder and their families. The Immigration and Emigration Department said the system to implement visas from their end was all set. “We are aware that there are certain amendments proposed by the Sri Lanka Tourism. We are awaiting the green light of authorities to issue a visa,” the official from the Department said. Industry experts claimed that an inability to take quick decisions has caused a loss of foreign exchange for the economy, as the implementation of the project was delayed for three months even after obtaining Cabinet approval. People who use digital technology for their livelihood and travel around the world are called digital tourists or nomads and facilitating such tourists has been a growing trend in the tourism industry. The Government believes the move will help position Sri Lanka as a favourable destination for digital nomads. “Digital nomads support SMEs due to their long stay. They love to hang out in coffee shops, restaurants that have good internet connection. They tend to explore various destinations within the country during their long-term stay in the country. This also supports the development of a people-centric economy,” industry experts said. A record 7,096 tourists have arrived in the country between 1 and 13 October, boosting hopes for the crisis-ridden industry. The initial arrivals figure was released by the Tourism Ministry this week, and industry sources said the number was the highest for a 13-day period, and if the trend continued, October was likely to record the highest monthly arrivals for this year. As of now, September saw the highest tourist arrivals of 13,547, propelling the first nine months’ figure to over 37,000. Original Article : https://www.ft.lk/front-page/Digital-Nomad-Visa-goes-before-Cabinet-again/44-724715

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