Nigeria: Nigeria Immigration Considerations For Foreign Investors And Offshore Companies

Last Updated: 15 January 2018
Article by Edoabasi Udo

There are a number of visa options for persons seeking to visit Nigeria whether to work, establish a new business, or to run an existing business. Nigeria offers four (4) visa options for business people as follows:

  1. Visa on Arrival (VoA)
  2. Business Visa
  3. Subject to Regularization (STR) Visa
  4. Temporary Work Permit (TWP)

1. VISA ON ARRIVAL:

Who Qualifies?

Visa on Arrival is available to frequently travelled business persons of international repute; executives of multi-national companies; members of government delegations; holders of United Nations, African Union, or ECOWAS laissez passers; holders of any other official travel documents of other recognized international organizations who intend to visit Nigeria, and who require visa to visit Nigeria but may not be able to obtain visa at the Nigerian Missions/Embassies in their countries of residence due to the absence of a Nigerian mission in those countries or exigencies of urgent business travels.

How to Apply for Visa on Arrival

To apply for VoA, you need a Visa on Arrival Approval Letter. There are two methods to obtaining VoA Approval Letter. You may apply through email or through your representative in Nigeria.

Applying through Email

The applicant or his representative will send an application by email to the Comptroller General of Immigration at oa@nigeriaimmigration.gov.ng; furnishing the following details: name of applicant, nationality of applicant, passport number of applicant, purpose of visit, proposed date of visit, proposed port of entry, flight itinerary, address in Nigeria or hotel reservation. The following documents need to accompany the application: copy of passport data page and copy of airline return ticket reservation.

Applying through your representative in Nigeria

The Applicant's representative (business partners, company representative, protocol/liaison officer, etc.) may file a formal request for Visa on Arrival Approval on the applicant's behalf by sending an application to the Comptroller General of Immigration, providing the following details: name of applicant, nationality of applicant, passport number of the applicant, purpose of visit, proposed date of visit, proposed port of entry, proposed airline, flight itinerary, address in Nigeria, email address of the visitor, Acceptance of Immigration Responsibility. The following documents should be annexed to the application: copy of passport data page of the applicant and copy of airline return ticket reservation.

Payment of Visa fees must be made online via the NIS website at www.immigration.gov.ng. Successful online payment is not an approval. Applicant must receive 'Visa on Arrival Approval Letter' before proceeding to Nigeria. The timeline for the processing of application and issuance of approval letter is 48 hours (2 working days). Visa Approval Letter (Pre-approved visa letter) is valid for 14 days from the date of issuance. Applicant shall upon arrival at the Port of Entry, proceed to the desk marked 'Visa on Arrival' for issuance of entry Visa.

Requirements for the issuance of Visa on Arrival at the Point of Entry

  • Evidence of online payment of Visa fee
  • Valid Passport with minimum of six months validity
  • Return ticket
  • Two recent passport sized photographs

2. BUSINESS VISA

Who Qualifies?

Business Visa is available to foreign travelers who wish to visit Nigeria for the purpose of meeting, conference, seminar, contract negotiation, marketing, sales, purchase distribution of Nigerian goods, trade fairs, job interviews, training of Nigerians (humanitarian services), emergency/relief work, crew members, staff of NGOs, staff of INGOs, researchers, musical concerts.

Requirements for the issuance of Business Visa

  • Passport valid for at least 6 months with at least 2 blank visa pages for endorsement
  • Two (2) recent passport sized (35/40mm) photograph
  • Return ticket
  • Evidence of hotel reservation/host address in Nigeria
  • Evidence of sufficient funds
  • Evidence of online payment for visa fee
  • 2 passport sized photographs to completed Visa Form IMM22

How to apply for Business Visa

Application for business visa is made online via the Nigeria Immigration Service official website at www.immigration.gov.ng. Completed forms must be printed and submitted to the Embassy/High Commission/Consulate of Nigeria or at designated Visa Application Centre. Applicant may be invited for interview if necessary. Timeline for approval is 2 – 3 working days from receipt of application.

Validity

Validity of stay with business visa is 90 days (not extendable) and cannot be used to gain employment.

3. SUBJECT TO REGULARIZATION (STR) VISA

Who Qualifies?

STR VISA is available to expatriate employees of companies and their dependants, expatriate technical officials of missions, foreign students, missionaries/clerics and their dependants, research fellows, expatriate staff of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their dependants, expatriate staff of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and their dependants, government officials and their dependants, expatriates employed by companies operating in free zones and their dependants expatriates employed by individuals, corporate bodies or governments (i.e. to take up employment in Nigeria).

Requirements for the issuance of STR Visa

For Principals:

  • Formal application for STR Visa from the Employer/Institution accepting
  • Valid Passport with a minimum of 6 months validity and at least 2 blank pages for visa endorsement
  • Two (2) passport sized photographs (35/40mm) taken within the last 6 months on white background
  • Duly completed Visa Form IMM22
  • Evidence of Immigration Responsibility
  • Letters of Offer of Appointment and Acceptance of Offer
  • Educational qualifications and Curriculum Vitae
  • Extract of Board Resolution, applicable to CEOs, MDs and GMs of Companies
  • Expatriate Quota Approval, applicable to staff of companies
  • Evidence of online payment for visa fee.

Expatriates of companies operating in the free zones, foreign students, expatriate technical officials of missions, expatriates of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and government officials are exempted from Expatriate Quota Approval.

For Dependents:

  • Evidence of Regularization of Principal
  • Marriage Certificate of Spouse
  • Birth certificate for children confirming nexus.

How to Apply for STR Visa

Application for Subject to Regularization Visa may be made online using form IMM22 with payment of appropriate fees via www.immigration.gov.ng. The printed documents are to be submitted to the Embassy/High Commission/Consulate of Nigeria where applicant is resident, or at designated Visa Application Centre (where applicable). Successful online payment is however, not an Approval for STR. Timeline for the approval of application is maximum of seven (7) days from receipt of application.

4. TEMPORARY WORK PERMIT (TWP)

Who qualifies?

Persons eligible to apply for TWP are experts invited by corporate bodies to provide specialized skilled services, such as after sales installation, commissioning, upgrading, maintenance, repairs of equipment and machinery, training, capacity building for Nigerian staff, audit of machinery/equipment and financial records

Requirements for the issuance of Temporary Work Permit (TWP)

  • Visa approval Letter (pre-approved visa letter) valid for 90 days from the date of issuance
  • Passport with not less than 6 months validity and at least 2 blank pages for visa endorsement
  • Two (2) passport sized photographs (35/40mm) on a white background taken within the last 6 months
  • Duly completed Visa Form IMM22
  • Evidence of payment of Visa fee
  • Confirmed Airline Return ticket
  • Acceptance of IR (Immigration Responsibility) by inviting organizations or individual. Immigration Responsibility includes but not limited to: accommodation/feeding; transportation; and if need be the cost of repatriation or deportation

Obtainable only from the office of the Comptroller General of Immigration in the Nigeria Immigration Service.

How to Apply for TWP Visa

Application for Temporary Work Permit is made to Comptroller General of Immigrations by a corporate body in Nigeria on behalf of the applicant. The details of the applicant are to be furnished. The application shall be attached with the following documents: company profile, Certificate of Incorporation, Form CAC 2 & 7 (showing the company's share capital not less than N10 million), copy of data page of the expatriate's passport, evidence of existing contract or purchase/importation of machinery or equipment, any other relevant document.

Application for TWP can be submitted via email at oa@nigeriaimmigration.gov.ng or at the Mission receiving the application, payment of visa fee is applicable via www.immigration.gov.ng. Timeline for CGI's approval is maximum of two (2) working days from receipt of application.

Validity

Validity of stay with TWP is 90 days.

FOREIGN PARTICIPATION IN NIGERIA: THE NEED FOR BUSINESS PERMIT AND EXPATRIATE QUOTA

As part of regulatory requirements, foreign investors and offshore companies doing business or looking to establish in Nigeria must obtain Business Permit and Expatriate Quota from the Minister of Interior. Immigrant workers do not require work permits, but they remain subject to needs quota of their employer company requiring them to obtain residence permits that allow salary remittances abroad.

Foreign companies must register with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) after incorporating a limited liability company (private or public) with the Corporate Affairs Commission; and procure appropriate business permits; and register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (when applicable) to conduct business in Nigeria.

Business Permit is the authorization for the operation of a business with foreign capital either as a parent company or a subsidiary of a foreign company. A wholly owned foreign company must obtain business permit as well Expatriate Quota for its foreign staff. Possession of business permit does not exempt the holder from the requirement of obtaining residence permit or visa for entry into Nigeria.

Residence Permit is granted to a foreigner who visited Nigeria using the Subject to Regularization (STR) Visa. The foreigner is required to change his status from a visitor to a resident by obtaining a Residence Permit. Residence Permit has a validity period of two years and is renewable. However, a foreigner who has imported an annual minimum "threshold of capital" over a period of time may be issued a Permanent Residence Permit in so far as the investment capital is not withdrawn and the foreigner has complied with any other condition prescribed for the issuance of the Permanent Residence Permit.

ECOWAS Nationals have a right of entry into Nigeria for a ninety (90) day validity period, and must register with the Nigerian Immigration Service and be issued Residence Card to be eligible to do business or work in Nigeria.

Expatriate Quota is the authorization to a company to employ individual immigrants to specifically approved job designations, and also specifying the permissible duration of such employment. The expatriate quota is the work permits for expatriate employees to fill the expatriate quota obtained by the employer company.

There are two types of visas which may be granted, depending on the length of stay. For short-term assignments, an employer must apply for and receive a temporary work permit, allowing the employee to carry out some specific tasks. The temporary work permit is a single-entry visa, and expires after 90 days. There are no numerical limitations on short-term visas, and foreign nationals who meet the conditions for grant of a visa may apply for as many short-term visas as required.

For long-term assignments, the employer needs a "subject-to-regularization" visa (STR). To apply for an STR, an employer must apply for and obtain an expatriate quota. The expatriate quota states positions in the company that will be occupied by expatriate staff. Upon arrival in Nigeria, the employee will need to validate his or her visa by applying for a residence permit.

Spouses of authorized workers may also work in Nigeria, provided they obtain a work and residence permit as well. Nigeria does not employ a labor market test, although the Nigerian Content Act does state that employers should exercise a preference for local employees.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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