Letter to foreign students
Dear foreign students,
You left your countries, parted with your family and friends to study abroad. You chose to study in our country, at Polish universities – some under the Erasmus + program, others thanks to scholarships from the National Academic Exchange Agency or intergovernmental bilateral agreements, and most of you thanks to parental or own funds.
Probably few of you realized a month ago that there will be more difficult tasks than taking exams, getting grades, living in a different culture or learning Polish. The situation changed unexpectedly due to the rapidly spreading SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic.
Poland is fighting the coronavirus pandemic by implementing the stringent restrictions recommended by the World Health Organization to help reduce the number of infections as much as possible. The restrictions also apply to members of the Polish academic community. Didactic classes were suspended at universities: lectures, exercises, laboratories and other – with the exception of online classes.
Students who could return to their homes left the dorms. However, foreign students who could not or for some reason did not want to return to their home countries, colleges provided accommodation. I also ensure that student government scholarships of the National Agency for Academic Exchange will be paid on time, as long as students follow the rules of education, including online education.
The situation is changing very quickly – so please check the Ready Study Go website ! Poland ( go-poland.pl ) – official website for foreign students and of course the websites of their universities. We will not leave you in need – thanks to these pages you can count on our help.
It is especially important that you follow the quarantine and isolation rules recommended by the university, sanitation and local authorities. If you receive such instructions, take them seriously. Take care of yourself, pay attention to your health and – if you notice something worrying – notify the sanitary service.
Remember that # stay home #stayhome means: keep a safe distance – our social distance – our scientifically proven method of combating the virus.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – from experience I know that in 99% of cases there will be people who will help you, show you the way or give good advice if you just ask. The staff of university international service offices are ready to help you. The National Agency for Academic Exchange has launched a special hotline, and the Student Parliament of Poland has established an information point for foreign students – information is provided in 10 languages.
The conditions are unique, different than we expected a few weeks ago, but please: remember that we are all passing the most important exam – the solidarity and social responsibility exam. I am sure that the experience of living abroad in such times will provide you with knowledge that you will not find in textbooks or lecture halls.
Please, take care of yourself, take care of each other in these hard times.
Professor dr hab. n. med. Wojciech Maksymowicz,
secretary of state at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education
Foreign Ministry takes stock of action by Sri Lanka Missions abroad to ensure the welfare of Overseas Sri Lankans (OSL)
The Ministry of Foreign Relations, sensitive to the concerns of the OSLs amidst the rapid spread of the COVID-19 and the inability to return to Sri Lanka, has held consultations over the past 2 days with its Heads of Missions based in 67 cities across the world, to facilitate the wellbeing and safety of Overseas Sri Lankans, while preparing for any exigencies they could have to meet in the coming days.
In a series of tele-conferences led by Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha with Heads of Mission/Post in 5 regional clusters (South Asia, Middle East, South East Asia & East Asia, Africa & Latin America, as well as North America & Europe), issues that demanded attention in respect of Overseas Sri Lankans were discussed, in keeping with the Government’s policy directives, on the COVID -19 pandemic. The focal point of the Foreign Ministry on COVID -19 Action and DG/East Asia Mr. Kandeepan Balasubramaniam, Additional Secretaries, respective territorial DGs and relevant functional DGs of the Ministry were associated in the discussions. The Acting General Manager of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), W.M.V. Wansekara, also attended some of the consultations which focused on Sri Lankan migrant receiving countries.
Overall, all Sri Lanka Missions, even though mostly in ‘work from home’ mode, have been constantly interacting with the student communities and the migrant workers in their respective stations and have established 24-hour emergency hotlines providing easy access to the Mission staff. While the Missions are in the process of updating databases of Sri Lankans in their respective stations, social media platforms are also being used to maintain and enhance links by which information could be shared. The Sri Lanka Missions in these regions have assured the community members and students studying overseas that requests for return of Sri Lankans will be considered once the spread of the virus is contained in the country.
Sri Lanka Missions in the Middle East, as well as South East Asia, East Asia, Africa and Southern Europe, which host the largest concentration of Sri Lankan expatriate workers, informed of their efforts to constantly network with Sri Lankans overseas and the community representatives, assisting them in matters concerning emergency passports, visa extensions, and employment contracts, by discussing with the respective local authorities and intervening and seeking clearances, as required.
Highlighting the need to assist this important segment of migrant labour, one of largest contributors to Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange, the Ministry stressed that the Missions and the SLBFE should also look after and facilitate the well-being of Sri Lankans without valid visas, unemployed and also those not registered with the SLBFE. It was noted that some Sri Lanka Missions have liaised with local charities that support people who are unemployed, recruiting agencies, other community organizations, International organizations such as IOM and Caritas, to render assistance to Sri Lankans until such time they can be safely repatriated back to Sri Lanka. The declaration of amnesty periods by some Middle Eastern countries and the ramifications of such action, were also discussed during the tele conferences.
With respect to Sri Lankan students enrolled across the globe, most Missions, including those in the West, reported having close contact with the University administrations and the students communities, to make certain that the students have continued access to their accommodation in hostels, access to food and medical facilities.
The Missions have also been striving to secure visa extensions for students, as well as others residents and those visiting abroad, whose visas are lapsing. This concession was granted for over 15,000 foreigners visiting Sri Lanka until 12 May, due to reasons caused by the pandemic.
On the economic front, the Ministry, through its Mission network, in collaboration with the Export Development Board (EDB) is in the process of facilitating Sri Lankan exporters at this volatile time period to re-position themselves in the long run. In this respect, the Missions network assists the EDB to obtain market information as well as address issues relevant to supply side constraints in our key export sourcing countries. This also includes seeking new opportunities for Sri Lanka for existing products, as well as requirements related to the COVID 19 situation.
The Ministry also took note of the positive action by some Missions in collaborating with the Sri Lankan Health authorities, to coordinate procurement of medicines and medical equipment urgently needed on a Government to Government basis. Missions were further requested to look for opportunities to obtain test kits and necessary medical equipment in consultation with the Ministry of Health, to help mitigate the spread of the virus in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the new ‘Contact Sri Lanka’ online Web Portal launched by the Ministry of Foreign Relations on 26 March 2020, has to date seen 45,770 Sri Lankans living abroad register, a bulk of them from the Middle East. It is noteworthy that 1955 queries have also been directed to the portal, and been answered. The Portal is a direct interface for all Overseas Sri Lankans to voice their views and concerns to the Ministry and the Missions, and has been jointly created by the Foreign Ministry and Information & Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA). The web link is hosted on the Ministry web page www.mfa.gov.lk and also can be accessed at www.contactsrilanka.mfa.gov.lk.
Ministry of Foreign Relations
2 April 2020
Extension of Visas for the Foreigners in Sri Lanka
This is further to the previous notice released by the Department of Immigration and Emigration on 17.03.2020 with regard to the extension of visas for the Foreigners residing in Sri Lanka.
Accordingly, the validity period of all types of Visas had been extended for a period of 30 days with effect from 14th March 2020 to 12th April 2020.
Having considered the spread of Covid-19 virus in the country, it has been decided to further extend the validity period of all types of Visas issued to all foreigners who are currently residing in Sri Lanka from another 30 days.
Hence, you are kindly requested to proceed as advised below.
1) The validity period of all types of Visas will be extended till 12th May 2020.
2) The procedure to pay the relevant visa fee and to get the visa endorsed in the Passport will be informed to you later. Hence, you are hereby informed to refrain from visiting the Visa Division of the Department of Immigration and Emigration as mentioned in the previous notice.
3) If you intend to leave the island during the aforementioned period; your journey will be facilitated by paying the relevant visa fee at the Airport without any penalty.
4) The validity period of the Acknowledgements issued for the applications already submitted to the Department of Immigration and Emigration to obtain visas, will also be extended for another period of 30 days; till 12th May 2020. If you intend to leave the country during the given period, a request to obtain your passport along with a scan copy of the Acknowledgement and the flight ticket should be sent to the following email addresses. Necessary advises in this regard, will be communicated to you accordingly via the same channel.
For Inquiry: 0771588724
This notice has been issued as per the instructions of the Controller General of Immigration and Emigration.
Romanian State of Emergency
After the Romanian President declared a state of emergency, a series of special regulations have been adopted in order to help businesses survive in these circumstances.
One such special regulation is the Emergency Ordinance no. 30/2020 regarding the compensation paid by the State to the employees of companies whose salaries can no longer be paid by their employers and their employment contracts are suspended.
The provisions of this Emergency Ordinance apply to all employers, no matter whether they are companies, PFAs (authorized private individual) or liberal professions and even NGOs.
The provisions of this Emergency Ordinance apply in the following situations:
- Where, due to the state of emergency and the decisions of the relevant authorities the employers completely or partially stop their activity (hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops, any cultural, scientific, entertainment, sporting, religious, gambling, fitness, spa and treatment activities that are usually held in a closed facility);
- Where the employers are forced to reduce their activity because of the spread of the Covid-19 virus and are financially unable to pay all salaries.
In the first situation, the employers must submit a declaration stating that they have been affected by the state of emergency along with a list of their employees and their salaries.
In the second situation, the employer will need to submit a declaration stating that the income they registered during the previous month has been reduced in comparison to the income for January – February 2020 and that they are unable to pay all their employees. The employer must also send a list of all employees who are to receive the compensation.
Along with the declarations and the list mentioned above, the employer must also submit a simple request asking for compensation from the state for their employees. These documents are to be submitted in the current month for the compensation that needs to be paid for the previous month. Within 15 days after submitting the documents, the compensation will be paid by the state out of the special budget for unemployment benefits. The compensation will be paid to the employer who has the obligation to distribute the money to the employees within 3 days of receiving it.
In both situations, the government will pay a compensation to the employees consisting of 75% of the basic salary for their respective job. This compensation cannot be more than 75% of the average gross salary estimated for 2020 in Romania. This means that the gross compensation for each employee will be at most four thousand and seventy one (4.071) lei. If the employee’s salary is usually higher than this amount the employer may cover the difference between the compensation and the employee’s usual salary.
It is important to mention that the compensation will be paid only for the duration of the state of emergency. So if the employer suspended the employment contracts before the state of emergency was decreed by the President of Romania, then for the employees whose contracts have been suspended in these circumstances, the compensation will be calculated starting with 16th March 2020 and be until the state of emergency is over.
Another important detail is that the compensation mentioned above is the gross amount. So, the salary taxes will be applied to the compensation as well. The taxes will be calculated, deducted from the gross compensation and paid to the respective tax authority by the employer. For this purpose, the employer is obliged to submit a declaration with the tax authority.
This regulation is part of a governmental program meant to help businesses as well as individuals survive in the current uncertain financial situation. Nevertheless, since it introduces a new procedure, employers are bound to face some issues in trying to obtain the compensation for their employees. For more information please do not hesitate to contact us.
1st April 2020
Registration of All Sri Lankans Living in Poland/Romania
The Ministry of Foreign Relations in collaboration with the Information & Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka has launched a web portal which can be accessed at https://www.contactsrilanka.mfa.gov.lk/ for the benefit of overseas Sri Lankans. Therefore, all Sri Lankans living in Poland/Romania are invited to register voluntarily on this web portal allowing the Government of Sri Lanka to reach out and provide assistance during emergencies such as COVID-19 outbreak.
Further, the Sri Lankan citizens living in Poland/Romania who wish to register separately their information with the Embassy are requested to submit the following details in order to provide necessary consular assistance in case of emergency.
- Surname (as given in the passport):
- First Name (as given in the passport):
- Passport Number:
- Address of Residence/Stay:
- Mobile Number:
- E-mail/Social media:
- Details of Family Members (Names /Passport Numbers):
- Category of status of each family member:
(i.e. students (Parent/guardian), short-term visitor/migrant worker/ resident/Holder of permanent resident status and dual citizen etc.)
- Health condition of each family member:
- Comments (if any):
The above details can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Embassy of Sri Lanka
Foreign Ministry facilitates outward movement of foreign nationals
Arrangements are being made for the smooth return of foreign nationals who are presently in Sri Lanka on tourist and other visa categories. This will be done using both regular flight movements operating through Sri Lanka and also charter flights that may be deployed, as the airport remains open for outbound passenger movements.
Modalities to facilitate these movements were was discussed today at a meeting chaired by Secretary Foreign Relations, Ravinatha Aryasinha. The meeting was attended by the Ambassadors representing the western hemisphere as well as representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Police Department, Department of Immigration, Airport and Aviation Services, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Civil Aviation and Sri Lankan Airlines.
In view of the curfew which has been imposed, the Acting Inspector General of Police has assured that the air ticket could be used in lieu of a curfew pass for the passengers as well as the vehicle and driver that would be transporting the passengers. Chairman SLTPB said reputed taxi networks and hoteliers have been requested to assist in these movements.
During the meeting, the diplomats present drew attention to the continuing difficulties faced by their nationals presently in the country on account of negative reactions experienced by tourists on some occasions from both owners of tourist lodgings as well as sections of the general public. The Sri Lankan agencies present emphasized that public measures would be taken to ensure Sri Lanka’s traditional hospitality to foreign nationals in these difficult circumstances.
Special telephones lines have been set up to ensure that such instances will be reported promptly and dealt with.
Special contact facilities have also been provided to those foreign nationals who are being moved to the quarantine centres.
Following the appeal made by Sri Lanka earlier this week, the representatives of several governments informed that they had taken steps to extend visas of Sri Lankans abroad whose visas would have or will expire shortly. The Foreign Ministry was assured by the other countries that its request was receiving the highest consideration in other capitals. Earlier, Sri Lanka extended visas for all visiting foreign nationals by one month.
Ministry of Foreign Relations
20 March 2020
The Ministry of Foreign Relations welcomes all Overseas Sri Lankans who reside or travel Poland/Romania for studies, employment or other reasons to register voluntarily on “Contact Sri Lanka”.
Poland has ramped up its battle against the coronavirus, announcing that from Tuesday citizens, except families, will be allowed to move around in groups of no more than two.
Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski said a ban was also being imposed on people leaving their homes except for vital journeys such as heading to work, to a shop or a pharmacy.
The ban, which will be in force until April 11, does not apply to volunteers helping senior citizens. Szumowski said police would be monitoring whether people are abiding by the new restrictions.
On public transport, every other seat on buses or trams will have to remain unoccupied.
Previously, public gatherings of more than 50 people had been banned.
The new restrictions were announced after a meeting of a government crisis management team on Tuesday.
Szumowski appealed to Poles to remain at home and abide by the restrictions, adding that otherwise “we will not be able to save human lives.”
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned: “Any breach of these standards, of these restrictions which we are additionally imposing today, can be lethally dangerous.”
He added that the new measures were being introduced in order to “buy time” in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic.
Authorities reported on Tuesday that two more patients had died in Poland after contracting the coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 10. A total of 901 people have tested positive for the Covid-19 disease in Poland.
The country has declared a “state of epidemic” and temporarily closed its borders to non-residents in a move to curb the spread of the virus.