Nigeria visa nightmareBack to Forum
Anonymous14 Jun 2011
Hello everyone, my first post on here. I travel to Nigeria 2 to 3 times a year on business, exporting chemicals. Been there about 65 times over the last 23 years and I’ve never experienced anything like this.
A multi-entry visa used to cost £70 and took a few days to obtain. Now you must spend an hour filling in an impossibly difficult application online form for the visa, go to another website to pay $472, go to the Nigeria Immigration site to retrieve a receipt and a visa application number then submit everything. Next, if you are amongst the unlucky random 80% your visa will be refused and you will be told you must apply for a Temporary Work Permit. For this you need a fixer in Abuja who will pay £500 for the TWP. I have been waiting three weeks for mine and my fixer tells me that the Comptroller General of Immigration is not at her desk to sign it. Once I receive the TWP I must re-apply for the visa again at $472 cost.
Some visa agents tell me this is tit-for-tat because the UK is making it so difficult for Nigerians to get UK visas. Other sources say the new Nigerian government is trying to implement a new visa policy in an attempt to “Africanise” jobs, which Nigerians should be doing. If that is the case their thinking is muddled.
Anybody else going through this nightmare? My trip has now been postponed indefinitely and I fear that my German, French, Dutch, Italian etc. competitors are out in Nigeria pinching my hard-earned business. I have emailed the local DTI and they say they will take the matter up in London.14 Jun 2011
Welcome to the forum Globalti. I’ve not been to Nigeria for many years, but visas for Nigeria were always a bit problematic but usually solved by getting to know the Ambassador, taking him out for dinner a couple of times and of course a Chrismas gift for the embassy.
However this brings to light a bigger problem, of visas for African countries in general. If visiting several countries, visas can take up to 2 months to obtain, and are usually valid 60 days from issue. This can mean some expire before you’ve even left.
I’m looking to drive from S. Africa to Kenya, via Angola, Congo, Rwanda. Angola visa’s currently require 3 months, Congo you need an invitation and so on. Some of these countries need tourists but make travel very difficult.
Some of this is likely retaliation against the UK. This can clearly be seen by the fact many African Commonwealth countries allow visa free entry for all Commonwealth members – except the UK! Some will allow entry for EU or Schengen members, except the UK and so on.
I’m not sure what the solution is – except to get a passport from Barbados which is more widely accepted than a UK passport.14 Jun 2011
Globalti – sorry to hear of your challenges with the Nigeria visas. Like you I have been there several times in Lagos and more in-country locations. and most recent in March 2011. The visa application process worked efficient and I didnot have any problems, although i worked through a local visa agency . You refer to a possible different treatment for UK citizens, that could be a option….some other African countries do the same (like Zimbabwe).15 Jun 2011
Globalti……………yes I have experienced exactly the same problems. It seems if they can see lots of previous Nigeria stamps in your passport they will reject your business visa applicatiion, saying that you need a TWP (Temporary Work Permit).
If you do not have any Nigeria stamps in your passport, they will probably give you a normal visa.
I recently got a normal business visa for a colleague who has been to Nigeria many times over the last 20 years, but because he has a new passport without any stamps in it they gave him one. However, when completing the on-line application I did not give any details of previous visits to Nigeria!15 Jun 2011
Probably retaliation. Went to Bern last December to get “interviewed” by some kind of official asking me if I was good in my job! Nonsense. Lasted 10 minutes but the whole thing took me 3 hours (they were not happy with the wording of the invitation letter and I had to ask for a new one, then queue again…) plus travelling time to Bern (twice 2 hours from Geneva).
It seems the “interview” thing comes from the fact the Swiss authorities want to have a chat with Nigerians requesting a visa to visit Switzerland…
The visa nonsense…15 Jun 2011
They did that to me many years ago…. I was summoned to the Nigeria HC in London for an interview, a whole day wasted. Walking in there was like experiencing a little bit of Nigeria in London, the same filthy environment and dozy office staff. The interviewer asked my reason for wanting to go to Nigeria then terminated the interview. I asked him if that was why he had made me travel all that way and he snapped “I have the right!”
Today’s news is that the TWP is signed. I will re-apply next week and let you know how it goes. Interesting thought on the empty passport, I might try again next time with my second passport, which has no Nigeria visas.16 Jun 2011
Part of the problem might be the documentation supporting the application – the letter from the sponsoring organisation should say that the purpose of the trip is ‘to attend business meetings’ – anything else at all risks rejection. I think the comment re too many stamps as a reason to suggest a TWP is certainly credible. Another good reason to have two passports and to use a visa agency.16 Jun 2011
My invitation and company letters always say “to attend business meetings” and stress that I will not be receiving remuneration in Nigeria. We use Visa Swift but another visa agent told me that the rejections are completely random – he submitted two identical applications from two employees of the same company and one was accepted and the other returned with TWP scrawled on it. He reckons that about 80% are being rejected randomly at the moment.
I will certainly try the empty passport next time round, although that might only work once.16 Jun 2011
The semantics are key. Likewise, anyone (non-EU) coming to the UK border will get a different response if they say they are coming “on business” or “to work” .16 Jun 2011
I travel to Lagos on a fairly regular basis for business meetings and applying for a visa has never been much fun, particularly since they introduced the online form and payment system.
Last time around I used a visa agency called CIBT to handle this for me, having been recommended by a colleague. I have to say that they simplified the whole procedure significantly and even offered a service where they fill in the online form (and make payment) for you. Well worth checking out if you’re a frequent business traveller: http://www.uk.cibt.com.16 Jun 2011
That’s a useful link, thanks. I note how they stress that you must specify the reason for the visit as “business discussions” only, I wrote “business” on my rejected application…. maybe that was the reason it was rejected.17 Jun 2011
Globalti – I think it’s essential that it be ‘business meetings’ only. It’s also critical that your sponsor/letter of invitation use precisely the same wording. If you have the two passport facility then using there once each year appears to work well – and a good agency is worth the extra fee just to avoid the buggeration factor. On my last trip they got me the visa in 5 days, including postal time.17 Jun 2011
I’ve used CIBT a few times before for various visas, rather that than spend 3 hours queuing outside an embassy only to get shouted at by consulate staff for not completing my form correctly. As Stewartkidd1 says, it’s worth the extra fee to avoid the hassle.17 Jun 2011
We have always used Visa Swift, with whom our regular travel agent has an account. Up to now they have always been efficient but this latest episode has not impressed me – I think they should have checked my application and warned me that it was likely to be rejected.
I’ve been granted my TWP now, just waiting for it to arrive from Nigeria then I will re-apply. The Nigeria specialist at CIBT has just told me that it’s unlikely I will be rejected again, having been made to jump through that particular hoop.17 Jun 2011