Nigeria has relaxed its immigration regulations in a new visa policy unveiled by the president, interior minister and other top technocrats at the presidency in Abuja.
The move primarily seeks to attract foreign investors as well as to boost trade in Africa’s biggest economy and most populous nation.
The new directives provide for a visa on arrival for citizens of African Union member countries, while visitors interested in tourism and entertainment should benefit from the new electronic visa.
“This new Visa Policy will advance our goal of building a globally competitive economy, by helping attract Innovation, and specialized skills and knowledge from abroad, to complement locally available ones. We are sending a message to the world that Nigeria is Open for Business,” president Buhari said in a tweet.
The Nigerian government’s decision to relax visa rules comes some six months after the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The government hopes Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed Airport will receive thousands of visitors in the coming months.
However, its border with neighbouring countries including Benin has remained closed since 19 August 2019. There is no definitive date for reopening with Abuja justifying the closure with claims that it was to arrest smuggling in and out of the country.
Major points from NVP 2020
- The #NigeriaVisaPolicy (NVP) 2020 is part of a wider reform Programme known as the ‘Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Border Strategy 2019–2023.’
- Nigeria now has a Biometric Visa System that links visas issued to the biometric details of the visa recipients, and is able to retrieve all previous visa applications linked to each individual biometric data.
- The new Biometric Visa Database is able to conduct checks against domestic and international (INTERPOL) watchlists.
- Under the NVP 2020, Nigeria Immigration has increased the number of visa classes from the previous 6, to 79, to ensure that visas are more efficiently matched to the purpose of travel, thus helping improve the efficiency of processing and response.
- The NVP 2020 prioritizes technology and automation, to guarantee improved security and also help improve transparency and tackle corruption, by reducing human contact.
- The NVP 2020 encompasses the following elements:- A new Border Management Information System (MIDAS)- Biometric E-Visas to replace the old visa vignettes- A Visa System that is connected to APIS and also able to conduct security checks against local and global databases.