Immigration to Nigeria
Business Permit & Expatriate Quota
Companies with foreign participation intending to do business in Nigeria or potential investors in Nigeria are required to seek and obtain the consent of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The consent issued is in form of a “Business Permit” and an “Expatriate Quota”. The Business Permit is required if the Directors of the company are foreign nationals. The expatriate quota is issued to foreign companies desirous of hiring expatriate employees. The expatriate quota is a permit issued by the Ministry of the Interior that allows a company registered in Nigeria to employ expatriates. Typically, the Expatriate Quota is granted for a period ranging between two to three years at the discretion of the Minister of the Interior and is subject to renewal upon expiration. The quota is issued to the company and not the expatriate. As such, when the expatriate leaves the company, the position reverts to the sponsor company and the company may place another expatriate in the same position for as long as the quota position remains valid.
Long-term Work Permit
A STR (Subject to Regularization) Visa is a type of visa required by foreigners seeking to take up long term employment in Nigeria.
The processing time for the STR Visa application with the Nigerian embassy in the assignees country of residence is approximately between 2 – 3 weeks (subject to a request for additional documents).
Once the STR visa is issued, the assignee would proceed to Nigeria to apply for resident permit.
The in-country process would take about 2 weeks. The employee will apply for CERPAC (Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Alien Card) so as to regularize his/her stay in Nigeria.
Please note that it is not unusual for Consulates to request for a copy of the security clearance issued for the grant of the STR visa from the office of the Comptroller.
CERPAC is an acronym for Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Alien Card. It is a green card that issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service which allows the expatriate employee to live and work in Nigeria for 12 (twelve) months after which he/she can apply for a renewal for a further period of another 12 (twelve) months provided the quota position occupied remains valid. Once the STR visa is issued and the employee arrives in-country, we would endeavor to regularize the expatriate employee’s stay in Nigeria by making an application to the Comptroller General of Immigration “CGI” requesting for the regularization.
Once the CERPAC application is approved the Nigeria Immigration Service “NIS” issues to the expatriate a green colored non-transferrable card, generally referred to as ‘CERPAC’.
Short-term Work Permit
Temporary Work Permit (TWP)
The TWP visa is a single-entry visa, which permits an expatriate employee to stay in the country for a period of 56 days (at the discretion of the Comptroller). At its expiration, it can be extended in country for a period of thirty (30) days or sixty (60) days as may be required.
Companies that intend to engage the services of expatriates for short term assignments and require the expatriates to reside in Nigeria during the assignment are required to apply to the Comptroller General of Immigration (CGI) for TWP.
The TWP application process is a two-stage process. The first leg is an in-country application where in the assignee obtains a pre-approval from the Comptroller General of Immigration (CGI) in Nigeria. The approval obtained is a TWP Cablegram which is submitted along with other required documents for the issuance of the TWP visa. The second leg of the application is obtaining the TWP visa at the Nigeria embassy at the assignee’s country of residence.
The TWP is a single-entry work visa authorization valid for 2 (two) to three months at the discretion of the Comptroller General of Immigration (CGI). It is important to note that the recent immigration regulation 2017 provides for implementation of the issuance of TWP outside the expatriate quota provision and maybe extended in-country for another thirty (30) days.
Visa on Arrival (VOA)
The VOA is a category of short-term visa which is issued to foreigners at the port of entry into the country. It was introduced by the Federal Government as part of the action plan of the ease of doing business in Nigeria. It eliminates the option of filing for an application for a business visa at the embassy, which is usually for the purpose of urgent business travels. This VOA is available for foreign travelers who wish to travel to Nigeria for meetings, conferences, seminars, contract negotiation, marketing, sales, purchase and distribution of Nigerian goods, trade fairs, job interviews.
The application is a two (2) stage application process. The first stage is to obtain pre-approval from the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI) before the assignee’s arrival in the country. The pre-approval permits the assignee to board and aircraft and arrive in Nigeria.
The second stage is the endorsement of the assignee’s passport at the visa-on-arrival section at the port of entry at the international airport. A card payment of the visa fee is paid on arrival at the port of entry.
The VOA scheme has so far proved to be an efficient means of eradicating the bottlenecks associated with obtaining business visas at Nigeria Missions abroad. It is important to state that the VOA is not valid for employment or residence.
In conclusion, it is important to state that the TWP is not a general-purpose employment permit but rather a special purpose visa that only applies to expatriates invited to Nigeria to execute specialized short-term assignments and cannot be converted to a permanent work permit. Also, spouses and dependents of beneficiaries of a TWP visa cannot be admitted into Nigeria solely on the basis of the TWP visa issued to the principal applicant.
The Long-term work permit on the other hand follows the mode of applying for a foreigner his or her spouse and dependents and also allows the expatriate employee to live and work in Nigeria for 12 months after which he/she can apply for a renewal for a further period as long as the expatriate quota of the company remains valid.