President Muhammadu Buhari on 4th February 2020, unveiled the Nigerian Visa Policy (NVP 2020). The NVP 2020 aims to improve the Nigerian business environment, attract Foreign Direct Investment and boost tourism without compromising national security.
Notable changes include the expansion of the categories of visas from 6 to 79 classes of visas. All classes of Nigerian visas including those available for visa on arrival and e-visa services may now be processed and obtained at the Nigerian Embassies and Visa Application Centres. The visa processes now also include the acquisition of the biometrics of visa holders at the embassy or at point of arrival.
In addition, the policy prohibits cash transactions pertaining to visa applications, applies the principle of diplomatic reciprocity and aims to support the attainment of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020) through the adoption of Security, Economy and Transparency (SET).
Highlights of the policy are as follows:
- Expansion of visa classes- previously, the Nigerian visa was issued only in six classes stated below:
- Temporary work permit (TWP)
- Subject to regularisation (STR)
However, the policy has now been expanded from 6 to 79 classes, to ensure that visas issued are better matched with the purpose of travel. The New Visa classes include:
- 36 New Short Visit Visas Classes: These allow travellers to visit Nigeria for a period not exceeding three months for the purpose of visit, tourism, business meeting, conference, seminar, contract negotiation, marketing, sales, purchase, distribution of Nigerian goods, trade fair, job interview, sports, entertainment, study tour, academic exchange programme, humanitarian services, relief/emergency works and temporary work permits.
- 36 New Temporary Residence Visas Classes: Temporary Residence Visas allow individuals reside in Nigeria for a period not exceeding two years, subject to renewal for the purpose of employment, establishment, schooling, internship, accompanying employed migrants or students or diplomats as dependants.
- 15 New Permanent Residence Visas Classes: Permanent Residence Visas permit certain class of individuals to obtain permanent residence status 2 in Nigeria. These individuals include Spouses of Nigerian Citizens, Nigerians by birth who renounced Nigerian citizenship and their spouses, as well as investors who import an annual minimum threshold of capital as specified, highly skilled individuals as well as some categories of retirees.
- Investor Visa- The new policy introduces the 'Investor Visa' with various thresholds for small, large and ultra-large-scale investors. Investors are to have evidence of an amount (dependent in the class of investor) as importation and retention of capital, provide a police report from applicant's country of residence in the last five years and documentary proof of investment(s) in Nigeria
- Visa on arrival- The policy introduces 'Visa on arrival' for holders of passports of other African countries, for short visits. It must be noted however, that this applies only to other Africans who would ordinarily require a visa. It does not affect citizens of visa-exempted countries.
The Visa on arrival is supported by section 20 (7) of the Immigration Act which empowers the Comptroller General to authorize the issuance of short visit visas at the point of entry. However, visa on arrival will only be issued at Nigeria's international airports, and not land borders.
The classes of visa available for Visa on Arrival Include:
- F4C: Business- Frequently Travelled Executive Visas.
- F5A: Tourism Visa
- F7K: Emergency Relief Work Visa
- F9A: Returning holders of other national passports who are Nigerians by birth.
- Introduction of electronic Visa (e-Visa)- This is a web based/online application process that is subject to pre-approval before arrival to Nigeria. It involves an online visa application process that enables intending visitors to Nigeria to apply and obtain electronic approval for short visit visas not more than three months online. E-Visa is subject to online pre-approval (Travel Authorization Letter) before arrival to Nigeria.
Classes of visas available for e-visa services include:
- F3B Transit Visa
- F4A Business Visa (Single entry)
- F4C Business (Frequently travelled executives)
- F5A Tourism Visa
- F7A Journalist Visa
- F7C Medical Tourism Visa 3
- F7D Religious Tourism Visa
- F7E Sports Visa
- F7F Artist(e)/Entertainer/Musician Visa
- 7G Study Tour Visa
- F7H Academic Exchange Programme Visa
- F7I International Cultural Exchange Visa
- F7J Humanitarian Services Visa
- F7K Emergency/Relief Work Visa
- F7L Staff of INGO Visa
- F7M Staff of NGO Visa
- F9A Returning Holders of National Passports who are Nigerians by birth.
- Entry of Nigerian citizens with other passports- The policy introduces multi-year, multi-entry visa classes for Nigerians in the diaspora with dual citizenship enabling them to enter Nigeria with the passports of other nations.
- Specific recognition of certain classes of travellers- The policy makes provision for several types of travellers. It provides for religious tourism, medical tourism, sports travellers, entertainers, non-governmental organisation and many others.
- Reciprocity/Visa Waiver Agreements- Citizens of Brazil, Venezuela, Kenya, China, Cuba, Sudan, Namibia, South Africa, Mauritius, Singapore, Turkey, Tanzania and Rwanda holding diplomatic and/or official passport can travel to Nigeria visa free based on bilateral or multilateral agreements on the principle of reciprocity, and certain other entry conditions.
- Visa Exemption- The policy provides for certain categories of visa-exempted travellers such as:
a. ECOWAS Member States (F1A): Citizens of the following ECOWAS member states: (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote D'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo) do not need to acquire a Nigerian visa to enter Nigeria based on ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol. However, must observe the following entry conditions:
- Requires valid travel documents to enter Nigeria.
- Must enter Nigeria through a recognised entry point.
- Must have means of sustenance while in the country.
- Must not be in the category of prohibited immigrants.
- Free entry for maximum of 90 days is not valid for employment.
- Residence permit must be obtained to get employment or establish business.
b. Visa Abolition Agreements (F1B): Citizens of Cameroon and Chad can travel to Nigeria for short visit without obtaining a Nigerian visa based on bilateral agreements and certain entry conditions.
c. Visa Waiver for International Organizations (F1C): Holders of official travel documents from United Nations Organization (UN), African Union Commission (AU), ECOWAS Commission, African Development Bank (ADB) also enjoy visa waivers under the policy.
The success of the policy will depend on the efficiency of implementation. The Nigerian Immigration Service had earlier installed a technological system called the Migrants Information and Data Analysis (MIDAS) to ensure strict compliance with the conditions for the issuance of the visas. It is hoped that this will contribute to the seamless implementation of the policy.
It is important to note that the NVP 2020 is part of an ongoing reform of Nigerian Immigration laws and more policies, directive and other changes are expected.
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