Court frees visa overstayer seeking US asylum

A Chinese national who was charged with over-staying his visa, has been granted permission by Court to stay in Sri Lanka till December 31. His lawyer said he was seeking asylum in the United States,
The Chinese national who arrived in Sri Lanka in March this year via the Maldives, was produced before the Colombo Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne on charges that he had overstayed his visa.

However, he was discharged after his counsel informed court his client was registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and submitted the original copy of the asylum seeker’s certificate which was valid until December 31 this year.

The man was arrested after the Department of Immigration and Emigration also informed the Kompannaveediya police -- who produced the suspect. The court was told the UNHCR had finalized a working agreement with the External Affairs Ministry and the immigration Department to enable an asylum seeker to stay in the country even without a valid visa upon the issue of an asylum seekers certificate.

The Chinese national who was arrested while loitering claimed he faced threats to his life in his home country and was seeking refugee status in the US. Counsel K. Poobalasingham and Shelrine Ahilan appeared for the Chinese man.

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