The law is trite that any foreigner seeking employment in Nigeria must get the consent and approval of the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service1. Similarly, any company in Nigeria seeking to employ a foreigner must also seek the consent of the Comptroller General of the Immigration service. This article aims to examine and discuss all the approvals needed to enable a foreigner work in Nigeria.
- EXPATRIATE QUOTA
First and foremost, the Expatriate Quota (EQ) is where the legal procedure for hiring a foreign worker in Nigeria gets started. Every Nigerian company that wants to hire a foreign worker must first get an Expatriate Quota from the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). The number of expatriates the NIS allots to each company wishing to employ expats in its business in Nigeria is known as the expatriate quota. A company that is employing an expatriate must be incorporated in Nigeria in order for them to work there2. Additionally, before conducting business in Nigeria, any company with foreign shareholders must also get a business permit.
However, it is worthy of note that the following people are excluded from EQ application:
- government officials;
- foreign students;
- expatriate technical officials;
- expatriates of international non-governmental organizations (INGO), and
- expatriates of firms operating in the free zones.
The approval of expatriate quotas in Nigeria is subject to additional procedures that are industry-specific. For instance, the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010 (NOGICD ACT), which governs the oil and gas industry, permits operators and project promoters to retain up to five percent (5%) of their management positions as expatriates' positions subject to the requirement that they submit a succession plan to the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB). Also, the NOGICD Act3 mandates that all EQ applications be approved by the NCDMB before being submitted to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Applications for a temporary work permit also fall under this category.
Upon fulfilling the requirements for the grant of an expatriate quota and the grant thereof, the Nigerian company can then apply to the Nigerian embassy situate in the resident country of the Expatriate for a “Subject to Regularization Visa” (STR).
- SUBJECT TO REGULARIZATION VISA (STR)
The STR Visa is valid for 90 (Ninety) days. This is the Visa that is granted to an Expatriate pending the regularization of status.
REQUIRMENTS FOR THE GRANT OF AN STR4
- Passport with at least 6 months validity
- Completed visa form in quadruplicate with four recent passport photographs
- Four copies of letter of Expatriate Quota Approval from Ministry of Interior
- Four copies of credentials, certificates and curriculum vitae, all vetted by a relevant official of Nigerian High Commission/Embassy (English Certified translated copy where applicable)
- Four copies of offer Letter of Employment
- Four copies of Letter of Acceptance of employment, signed by expatriate
- Nigeria Immigration Service Visa Payment Receipt and Visa Acknowledgement Receipt
Subsequent upon the grant of an STR, an application for the grant of a “Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Alien Card” (CERPAC) shall be made.
- COMBINED EXPATRIATE RESIDENCE PERMIT AND ALIEN CARD (CERPAC)
A CERPAC must be obtained by any expatriate who plans to live and work in Nigeria for a period of time longer than 56 days. Having a CERPAC document enables non-Nigerians to live and work in Nigeria. CERPAC is a work or resident permit required for any foreigner to lawfully reside or work in Nigeria. However, except for missionaries, students from ECOWAS African nations and Cameroonian's nationals as well as those with special immigrant status, diplomats, government employees, International NGOs, and Niger-wives, all other categories of foreigners are eligible for CERPAC.
REQUIRMENTS FOR THE ISSUANCE OF CERPAC IN NIGERIA
- Application letter from the employer requesting regularization of stay and accepting immigration responsibility on behalf of the expatriate;
- Letter of appointment/employment;
- Acceptance of offer of appointment /employment;
- Form IMM22 with three (3) passport size photographs;
- Quota approval;
- Credentials; and
- Valid Passport with STR visa and photocopies of relevant pages.
- TEMPORARY WORK PERMIT
A Temporary Work Permit (TWP) is the permit needed where an expatriate has no intention to work in Nigeria on a long-term basis. A TWP is usually granted for three (3) months.it can be extended for an additional six (6) months. It is a single-entry visa for foreigners who intend to work on a short-term basis in Nigeria.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE ISSUANCE OF A TWP
- Letter of request or invitation from the company;
- Confirmed airline return ticket;
- Acceptance of immigration responsibility by the company;
- CAC incorporation documents
- Company's profile
- An application letter to the Comptroller General of Immigration on the requesting company's letter head
1 Section 34 Immigration Act
2 Section 54, Companies and Allied Matters Act
3 Section 33
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.