The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) on 4 February 2020 launched the Nigeria Visa Policy 2020 (NVP 2020). The NVP 2020 is necessary to spur the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020) to improve Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and boost tourism without compromising national security.
Key highlights of the Nigeria visa policy:
1. The introduction of 3 categories of visas and expansion of visa classes from 6 to 79
2. Review of visa application channels to include embassies, visa application centers and visa on Arrival
3. Introduction of e-visa
4. Automation of Temporary Work Permit (TWP) applications and extension of the validity period of TWP Visa
5. Provision for issuance of investor Visa
1. Introduction of 3 categories of visas and expansion of visa classes from 6 to 79
Prior to the introduction of the policy, the Nigerian visa regime had no vivid categorization, this new policy has introduced three categories of Visa has been introduced and they are:
1. Short term visas – 28 classes
2. Temporary Residence Visas-36 classes
3. Permanent Residence Visas-15 classes
Short term Visa ("STV")
The short term Visa introduced 28 new short terms visa types. STV under this policy still has the same purpose under this new regime as in the old regime but with the inclusion of visa for tourism, study tour, academic exchange program, humanitarian services, relief/emergency works and temporary work permits.
This visa category allows foreigners to visit Nigeria for a period of 90 days.
Temporary Residence Visa (TRV)
The Temporary Residence Visa (TRV) allows expatriates to live in Nigeria for a period not exceeding two years and is subject to renewal. Temporary Residence Visa is a multiple entry visa and it allows expatriates to work, school, intern and establish in Nigeria. The Temporary Residence visa allows expatriates to be accompanied by their dependents to Nigeria.
Permanent Residence Visa (PRV)
This category of visa allows certain classes of individuals to obtain permanent residence status in Nigeria.
This status can be conferred on spouses of Nigerian citizens, Nigerians by birth who have renounced their Nigerian citizenship, and their spouses, investors who import an annual minimum threshold of capital, highly skilled individuals and some classes of retirees. Remarkably, Permanent residents can only reside not work in Nigeria except the highly skilled Immigrants class.
2. Review of visa application channels
The last visa regime provided only for to major channels of applying and obtaining a visa in Nigeria, visa on arrival (obtained at the point of entry) and Nigerian Embassies around the world. However, the new policy provides for three visa application channels, the class of visa obtainable under each channel and the documents required.
a. Visa on arrival: This allows non-Nigerians to obtain a visa upon arrival at the point of entry. This channel applies only to four classes of short term visas and holders of passports of African Union Countries. Holders are not permitted for employments. Documents that are required are a valid passport and valid return ticket.
b. Visa Application Centers: The new policy provides for the establishment of visa centers in some countries. The proposed visa center will be responsible for the collection and submission of visa application on behalf of applicants to the Nigerian Embassy for processing and approval. All classes of visa can be processed and obtained at the Nigerian Embassy.
c. Visit at the Embassy: All classes of visa can be processed and obtained at the Nigerian Embassy. Embassy includes and Nigerian High Commission or Consulate.
As part of visa application process in Nigeria, it is mandatory for foreigners to undergo biometrics capturing on arrival into Nigeria, at the Embassy or visa application/issuance centers.
3. Introduction of electronic-visa (e-visa)
This is an online visa application process that allows an applicant to apply for a visa and obtain e- visa. The issuance of e-visa is subject to online pre-approval (Travel Authorization Letter "TAL") before arrival to Nigeria. Approval confirmation and electronic TAL would be sent via email within 48 hours after which the applicant can travel to Nigeria. The e-visa is only applicable to some classes of short term visa.
4. Automation of Temporary Work Permit (TWP) applications and extension of TWP Visa Prior to the new visa policy, Temporary Work Permit is valid for two months subject and subject to renewal, under this policy; temporary work permit is available under short term visa and Temporary Residence Visa category. The permitted visa channel to obtain Temporary Work Permit under both categories is the Embassy.
Temporary Work Permit under Short Term Visa (F8A):
Temporary Work Permit under this category is valid for only 90 days and is a single entry. The policy is silent on if it is renewable or not. A pre-approved visa letter is obtained from the Comptroller General's office. Holders of Temporary Work Permit under this category are not permitted to undertake employment or enter into any contract of employment.
TWP under Temporary Residence Visa (R11)
Temporary Work Permit under this category is valid for six 6 months (multiple entries) and is nonrenewable. A pre-approved visa letter is required from the Comptroller General's office. Holders of Temporary Work Permit under this category are permitted to undertake employment.
5. Provision for issuance of Investor Visa
Section 37 (11) of the Immigration Act and Regulation 5(7) of the Immigration Regulation of 2017 provides for the issuance of Investor Visa. These provisions, did not give details of the conditions to be met to benefit from the provisions.
The new Visa Policy has made provisions for this and it also provides for a class of investors. Application for Investor visa must be done at the Embassy. The visa is valid for five (5) years, multiple entries and is subject to renewal. Holders of this visa are permitted to invest and reside in Nigeria. The investor is expected to have evidence of an amount (dependent in the class of investor) as importation and retention of investor's capital, provide a police report from his country of residence in the last five years and documentary proof of investment in Nigeria.
The classes are:
a) Small Scale Enterprise: Evidence of 250,000 USD-500,000 USD as importation and retention of investor's capital
b) Medium Scale Enterprise: Evidence of 500,000 USD-1,000,000 USD as importation and retention of investor's capital
c) Large Scale Corporation: Evidence of 1,000,000 USD – 10,000,000 USD as importation and retention of investor's capital
d) Ultra Large Scale Corporation: Evidence of 10,000,000 USD and above as importation and retention of investor's capital
e) Oil, Gas and Power Sector: Evidence of 100,000,000 USD and above as importation and retention of investor's capital
There have always been exemptions for some countries under the old visa policy regime, ECOWAS member states citizens are not required to obtain Nigerian Visa to enter Nigeria based on the ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol. This exemption is retained under the New Visa Policy regime and other exemptions are added based on bilateral/multilateral agreements on the principle of reciprocity and fulfilment of some conditions.
Visas under this category are single entry, valid for only 90 days and not valid for employment. The other exemptions are:
a. Visa Abolition Agreement Countries: Citizens of Chad and Cameroon can travel to Nigeria for a short visit without obtaining a Nigerian Visa based on the bilateral agreement and the fulfilment of other conditions
b. Visa Waiver for International Organizations: Holders of official travel documents from United Nations Organizations (UNO). African Union Commission (AUC), ECOWAS Commission and African Development Bank can visit Nigeria without a visa.
c. Reciprocity Visa Waiver Agreement Countries: 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.
This new visa policy has indeed broadened the scope of Nigerian visa and we await the certainty of its implementation. The inclusion of African Union passport holders into the updated Visa on Arrival policy is an indication of the willingness and commitment of Nigeria to the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) treaty and an attempt to further encourage ease of doing business.
We recommend the issuance of practice guidelines/direction by the Nigerian Immigration Service to enable ease of implementation of the new policy. Also, immigration officers should be adequately trained to ensure the effective and efficient administration of this policy.
This alert is for general information only. It is not offered as advice, on any particular matter, whether legal, procedural or otherwise.
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