Sri Lanka may have 20,000 illegals mainly from Pakistan, India: report

Oct 17, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka may have about 20,000 guest workers, mainly from India and Pakistan working as labourers, domestic workers, cooks and waiters in restaurants in several towns without proper authority, a media report said. Sri Lanka’s The Sunday Times newspaper said the number was an ‘official estimate’ but the island’s immigration chief had declined to give an actual number.

“We are carrying out certain checks on people illegally staying in the country,” the newspaper quoted Immigration Controller Chulananda Perera as saying.

“I cannot elaborate on the action taken as it would make it difficult to crack down on them.”

Sri Lanka has visa-on-arrival facility from 85 countries and some may be abusing the facility, the report said. However a foreign national who comes with a pre-approved visa can also overstay or work.

Fast growing countries like Singapore which are tourist and service hubs also have visa-on-arrival facilities and some people overstay their visas. Sri Lanka also has aspirations to becoming a hub for South Asia and also develop tourism to grow its economy fast.

Workers, whether legal or illegal, help create wealth when they enter into a mutually beneficial contract to offer se