By: Samson Echenim
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with a population of over 200 million people. It is also estimated that out of every four black people in the world, one is a Nigerian.
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The country located in the West of Africa, is the region’s biggest economy and was the fastest growing economy in the world until recently.
The federal government of Nigeria is currently at its best to open up the country to the world for business and tourism more than ever before.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari announced a new visa policy that caters to easy entry for business people, certain professionals and Nigerians by birth who have restricted citizenship in their countries of residence.
If you are planing a visit to Nigeria, whether for business, tourism, short visit, or permanent residency, here are 10 things about the country’s visa policy that could blow your mind.
Multiple visa options
With the new visa policy, Nigeria has become of the few countries in the world that has generous visa options for travellers.
The country now has 79 visa types under three visa categories — short visit, temporary, and permanent residency.
Before now, the country has only six visa types. The new visa policy therefore avails visitors to Nigeria many options on how they wish to come to the country.
Free visa on arrival
Before the recent policy announcement, Muhammadu Buhari, president of Nigeria, had announce in December, 2019 that the would begin to issue visa-on-arrival to every person that carries an African passport.
He had said this would “bring down barriers that have hindered the free movement of people within the continent.”
Due to existing ECOWAS treaties, citizens of West African countries have been visiting Nigeria without visa. They get free visa on arrival. This has now been extended to all African countries. So, if you are an African coming to Nigeria, you do not need to bother about processing your visa before leaving your country.
However, this visa is only for those visiting Nigeria for a very short period. You will get your free visa for short stay at the airport as your arrive the country.
Foreign investment drive
Nigeria’s new visa policy is mainly targeted at improving foreign investment. At a time the country is record low on security, it is only natural that the country make visitations easy for foreign investors and foreigner coming in for business.
“This new Policy will help improve our business environment, attract FDI, boost tourism, and improve African integration, without compromising national security and our territorial integrity,” Buhari tweeted on Wednesday as he announced the new visa policy.
As the president said. Nigeria through the new visa policy, looks to “advance our goal of building a globally competitive economy, by helping attract innovation, and specialised skills and knowledge from abroad, to complement locally available ones.”
Expanded business travel options
Following from the above, the new visa policy of Nigeria has made it quite easier for people all over the world to come to the country for business.
The policy provides for five visa options for investors under categories N3A, N3B, N3C, N3D, N3E.
Buhari, while announcing the new visa policy had tweeted, “We are sending a message to the world that Nigeria is open for business.”
Visa on arrival for short visits only
Not every African will get the visa on arrival. Only short-term visitors will get visa on arrival. Such visitors include tourists, journalists, sportsmen, entertainers, clerics, academia, or doctors who are visiting for short engagements in the country.
Special visa for selected professions
Certain professionals from anywhere in the world, such as journalists, entertainers — musicians, stand-up comedians, actors etc – -, clerics and sports people who are coming to Nigeria will now get single-entry, short-visit visas.
Multi-year, multi-entry for diaspora Nigerians by birth
If you are a Nigerian by birth who is also a citizen of another country that requires you to denounce your Nigerian citizenship, you now have the multi-year and multi-entry visa that enables visit homeland as you wish.
The multi-year, multi-entry visa is available to citizens who have had to renounce their citizenship to become citizens of other countries. Such countries which require you to denounce your existing citizenship in order get her citizenship include China, Israel, India, Indonesia, Japan, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nepal and Qatar, to mention a few.
No cash transactions
Nigeria is one of the countries in the world with high rate of corruption, but the country’s government is working hard to tackle and eliminate the menace. Part of Nigeria’s anticorruption efforts are imbebed in the new visa policy which now prohibits immigration officers from receiving cash from visa applicants. The federal government believes this will reduce the chances of corruption.
No visas at land borders
As the country’s land borders remain closed, visas on arrival are not to be given to travellers at land borders. Also, visas are not given at seaports. Visas can only be optained at the country’s international airports.
Lest we forget, it is important to note that travellers will get visas on arrival only after doing their biometrics registration.
Femi Adesina, the special adviser to the president on media and publicity, describes the 2020 visa policy as a global visa system. According to the Presidential spokesman, with the new visa policy, “chances of criminals beating the system are negligible.”