Immigration changes in Ghana and Nigeria
GHANA | Recent Announcement Requires Medical Certificates to Be Obtained In-Country
The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) recently posted a brief announcement of a new policy – purportedly with an effective date of February 15 – requiring all new applicants for work and residence permits to obtain medical certificates only through the GIS medical facility at its headquarters in Ghana. Previously, medical certificates in support of a work permit applications could be issued by a local doctor in the applicant’s home country.
The practical implication of the announcement and new policy is somewhat unclear, as work permit applications are typically made before the applicant travels to Ghana. If this new policy is implemented, it will have significant impact for the work permit application process. Immigration Specialists in Ghana are struggling to sort-out the new policy; however, thus far, the GIS has released no further guidance.
NIGERIA | New Executive Order Imposes Tougher Local Hiring Measures
On February 2, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari signed an executive order (EO5) aimed at promoting local Nigerian expertise in science, engineering, and technology. EO5 prohibits the federal Ministry of Interior (FMI) from issuing visas to foreign workers whose skills are deemed to be readily available in Nigeria. Consideration of work visas will only be given to foreign nationals where has been certified by the appropriate governmental authority that such expertise is not available in Nigeria. Under the order, Nigerian government agencies must also give hiring preference to foreign companies and firms with demonstrable and verifiable plans for indigenous development.
While further guidelines and directives on the implementation of EO5 are expected from the authorities, the executive order is expected to have significant impact on the employment-based immigration of foreign nationals, especially in fields of science, engineering, and technology. Companies hiring foreign workers should expect more rigorous scrutiny of applications for expatriate quotas and the stricter application of requirements such as the understudies requirement, registration with professional bodies, and more onsite visits and audits by Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).