No dual citizenship for Lankans who sought political
M. N. Ranasinghe
"Although the dual citizenship has been reintroduced, the people who
left the country seeking political asylum will not be considered as an
eligible segment to hold dual citizenship in Sri Lanka.
We are not ready to grant dual citizenship for those who left the
country claiming that this is not a suitable country to live.
Therefore the re-implementation is not applicable for those who
rejected the country and went abroad as asylum seekers," speaking to
Sunday Observer, Controller General of Immigration and Emigration and
Commissioner for Registration of Persons of Indian Origin, M. N.
"According to the Citizenship Act, there are provisions to say that
any person who has been involved or acting against the Sri Lankan
status, sovereignty, national security or social equity cannot be
considered as a suitable person to be granted citizenship.
Therefore, the new implementation is only for people who went out of
Sri Lanka voluntarily for their educational, occupational or any other
If anybody could accomplish the requirements that are needed by the
revised procedure, they are eligible for dual citizenship in Sri Lanka,"
he further said. The granting of dual citizenship has been reintroduced
following a Cabinet decision recently and the new implementation was
announced by the Minister of Public Order, John Amaratunga last week.
The dual citizenship was temporarily suspended during the previous
regime since 2011. Till then more than 3,500 people of Sri Lankan origin
who held citizenship in foreign countries have obtained dual citizenship
status. Explaining further the reasons why the dual citizenship was but
on hold since 2011, Ranasinghe said, "Earlier it was not an updated
The previous dual citizenship scheme had not benefited the country.
There were instances where people holding dual citizenship had returned
to Sri Lanka only to buy properties and avoid paying higher taxes.
Foreign nationals are required to pay tax to the value of the property
they acquire. Therefore we wanted to bring in new requirements and also
change the procedures of verifying the documents.
Recently we received Cabinet approval for the revised administrative
procedure and therefore the new regulations for administering dual
citizenship commenced again from last week." Dual citizenship is
applicable for a person whose citizenship of Sri Lanka has ceased under
sections 19, 20 or 21 of the Citizenship Act No. 18 of 1948 or a person
whose citizenship of Sri Lanka is likely to cease.
"There are two categories of dual citizenship; one is retention of
Sri Lankan citizenship. According to the section 19(3) of the said Act
provisions are made in respect of a person who is having a desire to
obtain citizenship in another country, while he intends to retain the
citizenship of Sri Lanka.
The second one is resumption, that is, a person whose citizenship of
Sri Lanka has ceased due to his or her obtaining citizenship of another
country and wishes to resume the status of a citizen of Sri Lanka.
Accordingly, the section 19(2) of the said Act makes provisions in
respect of these people."
Explaining the criteria and the required qualifications to apply for
dual citizenship, Ranasinghe further said, "The approved Cabinet paper
declared six main criteria which required qualifying for dual
"Among the requirements to obtain dual citizenship, a person should
possess professional or educational qualifications and own immovable
property worth Rs 2.5 million or more in Sri Lanka.
Also an individual who has maintained a deposit of Rs 2.5 million at
a bank approved by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) can also apply
for dual citizenship in this country.
A person who has the ability to open with any commercial bank
approved by the CBSL, a Non Resident Foreign Currency Account or a
Resident Foreign Currency Account for US$ 25,000 or more for a period of
three years is also eligible to apply for dual citizenship.
Another criterion is being over 55 years of age. Anyone who fulfills
any one of the above qualifications will be able to apply for dual
citizenship in this country.
"The spouse of an applicant who qualifies for dual citizenship under
the new criteria and unmarried children under the age of 22 years will
also be eligible for dual citizenship."
"We also have revised the dual citizenship fees and for the main
applicant the charges will be Rs. 250,000 and for the spouse of the
applicant it will be Rs.50,000, and if there are unmarried children who
are below 22 years of age, the charges will be Rs. 50,000 for each
Although earlier the process was to grant a five-year Permanent
Residency Visa first and thereafter grants the Dual Citizenship, this
time, the government has decided to grant the citizenship straightaway.
The applications received at the department will be reviewed by a
Cabinet approved special committee and will also be subject to an
authenticity check of the certificates or documents produced by the
applicants. Based on the suitability and authenticity of the documents
together with the Head of Mission's recommendation the committee will
The selected applicants have to face an interview with the committee
and the findings of this process along with the committee decision of
the applicant's eligibility will be forwarded to the minister for his
The final approval will be certified by the minister for dual
nationality," Ranasinghe further said.
Sri Lankans living in nine countries, namely USA, Australia, Canada,
UK, New Zealand, Sweden, France, Italy and Switzerland only are eligible
to apply for dual citizenship.