FOLLOWING Federal Government’s expansion of the Visa on Arrival policy, over 12, 000 foreigners intending to do business or vacation in Nigeria may have benefitted from the scheme at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in just six months.
Nigerianflightdeck.com investigations reveal that no fewer than 500 foreigners are issued visas on arrival on a weekly basis with the number climbing to 1000 on several occasions if approved by the Comptroller General Immigrations in Abuja.
The Visa on Arrival scheme started in 2012 with Nigeria and nationals of Kenya until in 2017 under the Ease of Doing Business government decided to extend the scheme to cover all countries travelling into Nigeria on two categories, business and tourist.
An immigration source who spoke to our medium, explained that the visa on arrival has been very helpful and is not just given willy-nilly to anyone who just comes into the country without following due process.
She told our correspondent,” the visa on arrival is issued from outside the country, it is something you apply for and it goes through a process before approval is given. That is done in Abuja, we here just issue once we see the approval signed by the CG. We at immigration do our homework before we issue the visa to ensure you are not on any criminal or terrorist network or watch list and we ensure that a reputable organisation writes an undertaking that they are responsibility for the invitation.”
On the requirements to get the VOA, our source explained that,” there must be a letter from a company seeking approval and taking responsibility, then there is also a business permit letter as well as a certificate of incorporation and most importantly, an airline ticket.”
“Whoever applies, we look for their approval letter, evidence of payment and passport validity which must not be less than six months. And we issue two types of visas business and tourist visas which usually does not exceed a month.”
She also explained on unique situations where mothers fly out to give birth overseas, the NIS gives the child when it arrives a visa on arrival pending when the parents can get the documentation (Visa) of the child as that child is considered a dual citizen.
On the spate of deportation of Nigerian citizen, she frowned on it but enumerated some challenges the Service face when some of these things happen,” you know, when you are deported. It is a law that your travel documents are relieved of you according to Section 57 of the Immigration Act. Anybody deported for any crime has his/her passport withdrawn. The act states that the passport does not belong to the individual but belongs to the Federal Government of Nigeria. The passport is seized for 2-5years.”
Also for airlines that carry passengers without the right document, US$2000 dollars is charged per passenger a sanction on the airline.