Employment visas

Working in Sri Lanka

Employment visas

Residence visas may be granted to expats who wish to stay longer in Sri Lanka for work or other purposes. They are only granted once the authorities are satisfied the applicant poses no threat to the best interests of Sri Lanka.

Work residency visa

This visa covers professionals who are employed to work on state-approved projects; expat workers employed by a project under the Board of Investors (BOI) of Sri Lanka; workers required for private companies and employees of approved NGOs. You can find the application form at the head office of the Department of Immigration and Emigration (DI&E) in Colombo. 

Once completed, the form must be submitted to the DI&E with the required documents, as stated:

For people working on BOI projects:

  • A BOI certificate
  • Request letter from the employer
  • BOI agreement
  • Company registration certificate
  • Recommendation from the respective ministry
  • A copy of the information page in your passport

For people working on state-approved projects:

  • A visa request from the project office
  • Agreement of the project
  • A copy of the information page in your passport
  • Recommendation from either the Line Ministry OR from the Department of External Resources

For employees of NGOs and volunteers:

  • Request from the organization concerned
  • Recommendation of the Non-Governmental Organization Secretariat (NGO Secretariat) from the Ministry of Defence or Line Ministry (for volunteers)
  • Work permit issued by the Ministry of Defence
  • If applicable, the agreement signed between Sri Lanka and the country concerned

For people employed in a private company:

  • Form 48
  • Form 65
  • Company request
  • Memorandum and Article of Association
  • Recommendation of the Line Ministry

Validity of work visas

All work visas are valid for one year, or a time period specified by the company. You can apply to renew each of these visas after a year at the DI&E in Colombo. Company directors are given a two year initial visa.


Regardless of your citizenship, you MUST have prior visa approval before you enter Sri Lanka. This can be obtained from a Sri Lankan embassy in your home country. Once granted, you can then enter Sri Lanka with an entry visa and apply for your residence visa once inside the country.

If you enter the country on a temporary visit visa only, you will not be granted a residence visa.

Further reading

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