Any US Citizens heading to Sri Lanka require an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA, used for purposes such as tourism, sightseeing, and visiting relatives). Otherwise, in cases where US citizens wish to enter Sri Lanka for volunteer work, religious work, or employment, a Long Term Sri Lanka visa is needed.
How Is A Visa Obtained?
ETAs and Short Term Visas can be obtained online through the ETA application website. You can define these visits as periods not exceeding 30 days, and only require a few pieces of supporting documentation: your ETA application form, two recent passport photos, a return air ticket, proof of hotel accommodations/letter from hosts in the country, your passport, and a $35 processing fee.
Unlike the Short Term ETA, which you can apply for online, all long term (Sri Lanka Visas) require a trip to a Sri Lankan Embassy or Consulate before your journey. On the authority of Sri Lanka's Department of Immigration and Emigration, they can issue visas for various purposes. Dual citizens and certain children born to Sri Lankan parents are exempt from visa requirements.
There are some general eligibility standards. You must have a valid passport for a minimum period of six months from the date of your arrival in the country. You must have enough money to finance yourself during your trip and to secure means out of the country at the end of the visit. You must also be “suitable to enter Sri Lanka” by their authorities.
Visas requiring long term authority are broken down into five sub-categories. Long Term Tourist Visas, Business Visas, Diplomatic/Official Visas, Journalist Visas, and Residence Visas.
The minutiae differ from Visa type to Visa type, and you can view more in-depth information at the Sri Lankan Embassy's website, but there are some similarities between them. You'll have to fill out some preliminary paperwork and application forms, you will need to supply recent photographs of yourself, you require a valid passport, and except for Diplomatic/Official Visas, you're going to have to pay some fees.
In some cases, like with obtaining a Long Term Tourist Visa, you will need a letter justifying the length of your stay. For Journalists, a Letter of Commission detailing your activities will be required, along with an equipment list, and a letter showing that your gear will be re-exported at the end of your trip.
Have Fun In Sri Lanka!
The visa rules might seem dizzying at first, but as long as you adhere to the process and ensure your documentation is in order, you should be just fine. Stay safe, and enjoy your visit to Sri Lanka.