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Visa on Arrival policy: Immigration says Africans can’t visit without approval


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FOREIGNERS from other African countries cannot visit Nigeria without first getting their online visa applications approved, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has said as it sheds light on President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent announcement.

This disclosure was made in a release published on the agency’s website on Monday. The NIS has also launched a portal for visa applicants who would like to take advantage of the new option, despite reservations expressed by federal lawmakers.

Explaining the government’s position, Buhari’s Special Assistant on New Media Tolu Ogunlesi tweeted on Monday: “Nigeria’s Visa-on-Arrival is not a ‘just show up and pay for a visa at a port of entry’ Visa. You will obtain the VoA at a Nigerian port of entry but you need to have paid an applied online, and received approval pre-travel.”

The NIS requires applicants to provide six documents including a passport photo, introduction or application letter, copy of passport data page, copy of airline return ticket, and invitation letter from the host company. It is also asking for the host company’s Corporate Affairs Commission certificate or, if the host is a non-governmental organisation, a letter of permission.

Addressed to the NIS Comptroller-General, the application letter is expected to state the applicant’s name and nationality, passport number, purpose of visit, proposed date of visit, proposed port of entry, flight itinerary, and address in Nigeria or hotel reservation.

“Once the application is submitted successfully, a printable receipt would be issued,” the NIS said.

“The application would be processed, after which, an approval confirmation and approval letter would be sent to your email within 48 hours (two working days).”

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It further stated that a successful online payment is not the same as approval.

“Applicant should not proceed to Nigeria until receipt of ‘Visa on Arrival Approval Letter’,” it said.

Meanwhile, unlike what the NIS is introducing, in many countries with a visa on arrival policy, “the process of issuing the visa is initiated, and completed, at the port of entry, where government authorities generally examine the visitor’s passport, collect the relevant visa payment, and ultimately issue the visa. Some countries collect biometrics, including the visitor’s fingerprints.”

President Buhari had first shared the government’s plan to introduce the visa type in December while on a state visit to Egypt.

“We in Nigeria have already taken the strategic decision to bring down barriers that have hindered the free movement of our people within the continent by introducing the issuance of visa at the point of entry into Nigeria to all persons holding passports of African countries with effect from January 2020,” he said.

'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via [email protected] or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.

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