Requirements For Work Permit In Nigeria

The primary way of obtaining a work permit in Nigeria is through work. Other methods include marriage and study routes.
Nigeria Immigration
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The primary way of obtaining a work permit in Nigeria is through work. Other methods include marriage and study routes. In this article, we shall only focus on the work route. The Nigerian permit, officially known as the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC), permits a foreign national to live and work in Nigeria for a specified period, usually one year, subject to an annual renewal.

Steps for Obtaining a Work Permit Card (CERPAC)

To obtain a work permit in Nigeria through work, the first step is to incorporate a company in Nigeria or get an offer of employment from a Nigerian company. An existing Nigerian company offering a job opportunity to an expatriate must ensure it has a minimum of N10 Million authorized share capital. If the company is to be incorporated directly by the foreigner, the minimum authorized share capital must be N100 Million.

Upon getting a job offer from Nigeria or incorporating a new company, such a company must now apply to the Federal Ministry of Interiors for an Expatriate Quota (EQ). The EQ is issued in favour of the company based on the number of expatriates required to be brought into Nigeria. All foreigners aiming to work in Nigeria must obtain EQ, even if such a person is a shareholder or director. Where the company incorporated wholly foreign-owned, it must also apply for a Business Permit with the EQ.

After obtaining the EQ for the expatriate, the next step is to apply overseas for a Subject to Regularization (STR) at the Nigerian Embassy.

The following are the main requirements for an STR visa application overseas:

  • A valid international passport for at least six months.
  • Completed the visa application in quadruplicate and four current passport photographs.
  • Incorporation documents of the requesting company
  • Copy of the Ministry of Interior's letter approving the expatriate quota.
  • Copy of Business Permit issued by the Ministry of Interiors (where applicable).
  • Copies of all qualifications and curriculum vitae of the expatriate (where appropriate, certificates translated into English).
  • Copies of the employment offer letter.
  • Signed copies of the foreign worker's letter of acceptance of employment.
  • Visa Acknowledgment and Payment Receipt from the Nigeria Immigration Service.
  • Letter of Invitation

The expatriate must submit all the above documents to the Nigerian Mission or Embassy. If all the documents are duly presented, the expatriate will successfully obtain an STR Visa accompanied by a brown envelope or packet from the Embassy. The STR Visa is usually valid for 90 days, so the expatriate must arrive in Nigeria before the expiration of the visa to obtain CERPAC.

Upon arrival in Nigeria with an STR Visa, the expatriate is automatically entitled to obtain a work permit (CERPAC).

The following documents must be attached to an application for CERPAC processing on arrival in Nigeria:

  • International passport with an endorsement for the STR visa.
  • An accurately filled-out CERPAC statutory form.
  • A packet of STR documents obtained from the Nigerian Embassy overseas.
  • A letter of application from the employer asking for the expat's stay to be regularised and accepting Immigration Responsibility (IR).
  • The payment of the required fees. The official fee for CERPAC is 2,000 USD, renewable annually.

Steps for Temporary Work Permit

CERPAC is not the only work permit that expatriates in Nigeria can use to work. The expatriate seeking temporary work in Nigeria can also apply for a temporary work permit (TWP).

The processing of a TWP Visa involves two key stages. First, you must obtain a TWP Pre-Approval Letter (Cablegram) from the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS). The second stage involves securing the TWP Visa from a Nigerian Embassy abroad. The procedure and requirements for each stage are detailed below.

TWP Pre-Approval (Cablegram)

The first stage in processing a temporary work permit is the Pre-Approval authorization from the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). The Pre-Approval (also known as Cablegram) will be communicated to the Nigerian Embassy overseas directly by the NIS. Below are the requirements and steps for the pre-approval application:

  1. The company inviting the foreigner into Nigeria for temporary work will submit an application on behalf of the expatriate to the Comptroller General of NIS, and the application must state the expatriate's reason for the visit and the location of the Nigerian Embassy where the expatriate will collect the visa.
  2. The following documents must be attached to the application:
    • Certificate and other of incorporation of the company
    • Expatriate's international passport (data page)
    • Company profile
    • Payment of fees by the applicant

The period for obtaining the pre-approval is about weeks from the date the application is submitted, provided all the required documents are correctly submitted.

TWP Entry Visa

The second stage involved obtaining the Entry Visa at the Nigerian Embassy closer to the applicant, which was already informed via the Cablegram.

The applicant will apply for an entry visa to the Nigerian Embassy specified in the Cablegram. The following documents shall accompany the application:

  • International Passport of the expatriate
  • An invitation letter from a Nigerian citizen assuming immigration responsibility for the expatriate. The invitation letter must be accompanied by the identification card of the Nigerian citizen inviting the expatriate.
  • Incorporation documents of the accompany that applied for Cablegram
  • Payment of prescribed fee.
  • The expatriate must contact the Nigerian Embassy to book an appointment to submit the relevant documents.

Getting the TWP Entry Visa from the Embassy takes an average of 72 hours from submission if everything is done correctly. The visa lasts for two months and may be renewed within Nigeria for about two times or more if the expatriate has yet to conclude his assignment before expiration.

Finally, obtaining a Nigerian work permit is not a herculean task. There are two types of work in Nigeria: CERPAC, which is for a long duration, and TWP, designed for temporary workers on a specialized assignment. To obtain either work permit, there must be a company duly incorporated in Nigeria requesting the services of the expatriate.

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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