Sri Lanka has registered a protest over a proposed visa scheme of the UK that would require first time travellers from six high-risk Afro-Asian countries to pay a hefty financial bond of 3,000 pounds. External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunatillake Amunugama said the British High Commissioner John Rankin was informed of Sri Lanka's concerns. The British Home office early this week announced a pilot project under which visitors from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana would be required from November this year to make a refundable cash deposit of Sterling Pounds 3000 for short term visa applicants. "The Ambassador told us that this was a temporary move.
Only the high risk category applicants would be subject to the rule", Amunugama said. Those who are judged likely to abuse visa rules by over staying are regarded high risk category. He said the British High Commissioner had assured that a greater majority of the applicants would not be affected by the rule and it was also refundable. British officials in Colombo recently said that over 30,000-35,000 Lankans, mostly students, apply annually for British visas. Earlier, India had expressed serious concern over the British move and sought clarification from the UK government. Nigeria has also registered a protest over the policy, warning that it would hamper people-to-people relations between the two countries.