NIGERIA | Pro-Business Plan Expands Visa-on-Arrival and Permissible Business Activities
As part of Nigeria’s recently announced 60-day action plan to improve its international business climate, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the expansion of its visa-on-arrival scheme to accommodate business travelers whose home countries have no Nigerian consular post. Traditionally, business visas are applied for through the Nigerian overseas missions; but in cases where the applicant resides in a country with no Nigerian consular post, the process of applying through a Nigerian consulate in a neighboring country can prove to be expensive and inconvenient.
Effective immediately, the NIS has made visas-on-arrival available to “frequently travelled business persons of international repute” and “executives of multi-national companies” from countries with no Nigerian consular post. Those foreign nationals may apply for visas-on-arrival, valid for a single 14-day stay, at the port of entry. While the visas are issued upon arrival, applicants must arrive already holding a “visa on arrival approval letter” obtained for them by an in-country sponsor. According to the NIS website, requests for the required approval letters will be processed within two working days.
Also, to further accommodate business travelers to Nigeria, the NIS has expanded the definition of business activity permitted under the traditional 90-day business visas issued by the Nigerian overseas missions, as well as the new visas-on-arrival. The list of permissible business activities – in addition to the traditional attendance at meetings, conferences, and seminars – now includes negotiating contracts, sales activities, job interviews, training and research, purchasing and distributing Nigerian goods, attending trade fairs, and emergency or relief work.
Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria is currently in its fourth consecutive quarter of recession, posting a 2.2 percent GDP contraction in the final quarter of 2016. While the slow-down is primarily due to the softening oil market, which is expected to rebound somewhat in 2017, economists have warned that significant government policy reform is sorely needed to restore consumer and business confidence and steer the economy back to growth. Hopefully, the current 60-day action plan and these corporate mobility improvements are just the start of more needed pro-business reforms.