Sri Lanka agrees to grant concessions on visa fees

… No revision of stipends for APEMS students in Sri Lanka

Students pursuing education in Sri Lanka, and the future students will not have to pay a visa of USD 270 for the entire study period, they will only have to pay one-time visa fee.

The overall visa fee of USD 270 is also expected to come down.

This was discussed with the President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa during Lyonpo’s visit for attending the Fifth Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Summit in Colombo earlier this March.

During the visit, Lyonpo requested the President to grant concessions to the annual visas for students pursuing education in Sri Lanka. 

Additionally, Lyonpo also lauded high level of medical education in Sri Lanka and requested that more students be given the opportunity to study medicine in Sri Lanka.

So far, medical students in Sri Lanka had to pay US $70 every year for the whole study period, and additionally, to apply for visa, the students had to produce a medical certificate paying US $ 200 from state designated hospitals.

This totals to USD 270 for each student every year. “It has been resolved that Bhutanese students will be paying one-time, it will be applicable for the entire duration of the course

During the visit of foreign minister, Dr Tandi Dorji to Sri Lanka, the government requested the government of Sri Lanka to allow students to pay one-time fee for the whole study period and not every year.

Also, the government requested the SL government to allow students to take medical test in their own medical school campus. “As mostly the students are studying medicine, we requested the government of Sri Lanka to allow students to undergo the test in their respective campus hospital,” Lyonpo said. Adding, ‘this way, the students will not have to spend much to procure the medical certificate for visa approval’.

The Sri Lankan government has agreed to both the requests.

Lyonpo said this will greatly benefit all the future students pursuing education in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, owing to crisis in Sri Lanka, the prices have escalated for everything and this has also impacted the students pursuing education in Sri Lanka.

This was submitted to the cabinet by Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji and subsequently, a call for relief package for the students was discussed.

Today, the government is discussing on the relief package.

Additionally, for the revision of stipends for Assistance to Privately Enrolled Medical Students (APEMS) scholarship scheme, students receive a tuition fee of Nu 300,000 annually or USD 5,000, the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government will not be able to increase stipend for APEMS students because the funds have to come from the state’s coffer, and the resource level is really down.

As for the ongoing crisis in Sri Lanka and consequent inflation there, an order has come from Office of the Gyalpoi Zimpon (OGZ) to see into the matter and ensure that no students suffer. “The government has been directed to look after the welfare of the students,” Prime Minister said.

The government is in contact with all the students, and the most affected ones are those students pursuing education on their own.

However, the Prime Minister also re-echoed the words of His Majesty that the welfare of Bhutanese residing inside and outside the country is the same, and the government must support everyone, anywhere.

The government is yet to bring out a concrete decision.

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