In the last decade, the Federal Government of Nigeria has made efforts to ease the visa requirements and application process for foreigners. This is in an effort to improve the country Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) ranking. In 2020, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) announced its preparedness to commence the new visa policy. The new Nigeria Visa Policy (NVP) 2020 is aimed at specificity of visa classes and simplicity of the visa process for tourists, special skilled professionals, business investors and many others.
The policy expands visa categories from the previous six main types to 79 classes that are divided into two policy groups: the Visa-Free group and the Visa-Mandatory group. Under the latter, there are three main classes and 75 visa classes. The new policy also has a new visa fee structure. The policy was as a result of considerations for business travelers and tourists. Anyone traveling to Nigeria for tourism, sports, entertainment, and medical or religious reasons qualifies for the 90-day Short Visitor Visa.
Visa requirements are now easier to meet especially from African countries.
As recently as five years ago, non-citizens would have had to choose from one of six categories when applying for a tourist or visitor visa to Nigeria. Now, they would easily fit into one of at least 75 categories. And while previously they could only apply for visas at the Nigeria Consular Mission nearest to them, it’s now possible to do so through one of four approved channels, which are via the eVisa System, Visa on Arrival (VoA), Nigeria Consular Mission, and Visa Application Center (VAC). Each of these serves as a means to process a certain set of visa types to the convenience of the visa applicant.
However, only citizens of ECOWAS/CEDEAO-member countries, Chad and Cameroon can enter Nigeria visa-free. Like everyone else, they need a passport valid for at least six months and two blank pages for the stamps. The Visa Free or Visa Exemption policy applies to holders of travel documents that eliminates the need to go through rigorous visa application procedures in advance of visiting Nigeria. Apart from ECOWAS member states (F1A) and citizens of Cameroon and Chad (due to the Visa Abolition Agreement between Nigeria and these bordering countries–F1B), there is a visa waiver for international organizations (F1C) and reciprocity visa waiver agreement countries (F1D).
Fee payment structure for visa applicants all over the world to Nigeria.
For the former, it includes major organizations such as ECOWAS, the African Union (AU), the United Nations (UN), and the African Development Bank (AfDB). For the latter, diplomatic and official passport holders from countries with the reciprocity waiver are eligible for visa-free entry. As of 2020, China, Singapore, Turkey, Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, Tanzania, Sudan, South Africa, Rwanda, Namibia, Mauritius, and Kenya (only diplomatic passports) are listed under the F1D policy. Alternatively, citizens of ECOWAS-member states can travel with the ECOWAS/CEDEAO travel certificate. The certificate is issued at the Service Headquarters, 36 State Commands, FCT office as well as all Immigration offices in the 774 local governments of the Federation.
Furthermore, depending on nationality and whether the applicant is applying for a single-entry or multiple-entry visa, current fees payable range from $2 to $400. Applicants with a US passport may apply at the Online Integrated Services (OIS) centers in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, or Washington DC with a fee of $160. Applicants need to download and print their application form, acknowledgement slip, and payment slip. They should also ensure to have their email printout of appointment date, flight and hotel bookings, two recent passport photographs, letter of invitation from their host in Nigeria and printout of their passport data page. They also need to provide bank statements (two months’ worth, at least), which must show a minimum balance of $500–$1000 as well as have proof of yellow fever and polio vaccinations.
Travelers from the rest of the world also have considerations.
The e-Visa or Visa on Arrival is open to all travelers, including citizens of African Union (AU) countries. Westerners pay anything from $140–$270 when applying for a Visa on Arrival, and must provide return tickets, a passport photograph (white background) and a scanned copy of their passport data page. There is also a $90 charge for biometrics. All applications for Visa on Arrival can only be made no later than two weeks before the flight is due to depart; and the applicant must get an approval (via email) before flying from their country of residence. Except for transit visas and Temporary Work permits, it is possible to extend Short Stay Visa by physically visiting the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) offices in Nigeria, in Abuja or Lagos, at least 30 days before the visa expires.
Nigeria Immigration Service: Website