Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid is due to raise concerns over Sri Lanka’s tightening of resident visa rules during meetings with the country’s prime minister and top leadership on Wednesday.
Changes made to the resident visa process as a security measure after the Easter Sunday bombings are due to take effect on May 15, after which Maldivians would have to apply at the embassy in Malé prior to arrival in the neighbouring country.
“I’m confident that we will find solutions based on the trust between our two peoples and gvernments!” Shahid tweeted Tuesday after departing on an official visit.
Some 15,000 Maldivians reside in Sri Lanka. Based mainly in the capital Colombo, many are parents or guardians of students and patients who require long-term treatment. Most people apply for resident visas after travelling.
“This will not affect the Maldivians already residing in Sri Lanka,” said Miuvan Mohamed, director of communications at the foreign ministry.
The move was not specifically targeted at Maldivians, he stressed.
“There are many countries who will be affected by the new policy. The change is strengthen domestic security,” he said.
Many Maldivians families have been returning from Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the suicide bombings. Some returnees described an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty as Muslims have been targeted in isolated incidents.
On Tuesday, former foreign minister Dunya Maumoon urged Maldivian schools to accept returning students even in mid-semester.
Maldivians were also among 200 Islamic clerics who have been expelled for overstaying visas, AFP reported last week.