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Employment of Expatriates In Nigeria (Immigration Regularisation Process) (Reviewed, 23rd Feb, 2002) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

With globalisation taking a firm hold on majority of economies, issues of national sovereignty and boundaries are becoming fluid. It is common for a job seeker to surf the Internet and apply for a job in any part of the world. Bearing this in mind, what are the requirements for a foreigner or expatriates seeking employment in Nigeria? Also, foreign and Nigerian companies often are in a dilemma, for not knowing the legal process of bringing in an expatriate to work in Nigeria. There are three stages involved in the entire process of employing the service of an expatriate.

1. Stage One: Request for Cable Visa
2. Stage Two: Application for STR Visa
3. Stage Three: Regularisation of stay

Stage One: Request For Cable Visa

If a company intends to employ an expatriate who is residing or living abroad, it is always better to initiate action in Nigeria by requesting for "Cable Visa Approval". This is a facility granted only by the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Service in which the Nigeria Foreign Mission (where the applicant is residing) is directed to issue a "Subject to Regulation Visa" (S.T.R. VISA) to the applicant. This facility is obtained after forwarding to the Comptroller-General of Immigration application for S.T.R. Cable Visa. The contents of the
application should give the following details:

a. purpose of the visit,
b. duration of stay,
c. personal data of the prospective employee and
d. the country of residence.

The approved Cable Visa serves as a confirmation that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has no objection to the coming in of the expatriate into Nigeria since it has been verified that the company employing him have vacant quota position set aside for the expatriate. The approved Cable Visa is transmitted through the Nigerian Telecommunication (NITEL) to the Foreign Mission. Upon receipt of this document, the mission record and keep it pending the arrival of the applicant.

Stage Two: Application For Subject To Regulation Visa (STR)

The prospective employee reports to the Nigeria Foreign Mission for the issuance of the STR visa. There he will be given form IMM 22 and is requested to fill it in and return with the following attachments:

1. His international Passport or any acceptable travel documents whose minimum validity should be at least six month,
2. Four (4) recent passport photographs,
3. A letter of invitation from the company in Nigeria addressed to the Nigeria Embassy or High Commission as the case may be,
4. A letter from the company and acceptance letter from the employee
5. Curriculum Vitae
6. Credentials
7. Visa fee
8. Air Ticket.

After necessary scrutiny of the above documents, the Immigration attache or any officer assigned to handle the schedule of immigration attache will invite the applicant for interview. Qualified applicant will be granted the STR Visa. The entire document earlier submitted by the applicant are now vetted, enveloped and sent down to the Comptroller-General Of Immigration in Nigeria.

Stage Three: Regularisation of Stay

This is synonymous with normalisation of stay and it simply means the person who is granted visa to visit Nigeria within three months on STR is to regularise the visa by changing his status from that of a visitor to that of a resident. At the point of arrival in Nigeria, the employee is required to present his passport to the Immigration Officer on duty. After proper official documentation the officer cancels the STR Visa (which is normally on a single journey) and place the expatriate on a three (3) months visitor pass. It is expected that the employee will regularise his stay within the validity period granted by the officer at the point of entry into the country.

Requirements For Regularisation

Prior to the time any application is forwarded to the Immigration Service for regularisation, it is necessary to ensure that all the following items are intact and attached to the application:

* International Passport,
* Formal application for regularization, addressed to the Comptroller-General of Immigration,
* Vetted letter of employment,
* Vetted acceptance of offer of employment,
* Vetted credentials,
* Vetted curriculum vitae,
* Four (4) Passport photographs.

The documents mentioned above except for the International Passport are to be submitted in triplicate.

Submission of Application For Regularisation

This can be done in two ways:

1. Either direct submission to the Nigeria Immigration Service Headquarters in Abuja or,
2. To initiate action at the Immigration State Command after which the action copy will be forwarded to the Headquarters for necessary approval to enable the State Command issue the residence permit and re-entry visa where applicable.

The application is submitted to the Comptroller-General of Immigration, Abuja or any officer assigned to carry out the schedule of regularisation. This is normally handled by the Operations Directorate of the service located at the Block 'B' Old Secretariat Abuja. On receiving the application, a file is opened and quota section directed to confirm quota validity. All things been equal a residence permit is issued either from A or B depending on sex and status of the applicant. Re-entry visa, single or multiple is equally issued on request by the applicant. Prior to this period the re-entry visa came in endorsement form but now a new visa known as the vignette has been introduced to replace the other types.

An applicant is also allowed by law to initiate processing of regularisation of stay from the Immigration Command of the state he is residing. In this case, the Comptroller of the Command who is the vicegerent of the Comptroller-General of Immigration there will direct opening of file in the name of the applicant after following some office procedures which includes confirmation of vacant quota position. A partial approval is granted by the Comptroller of the State Command and copies of the documents showing action taken are forwarded to the Comptroller-General of immigration who in turn will approve the regularisation request. The documents will later on be sent back to the Comptroller who will issue the residential permit and the re-entry visa where applicable.

On the whole, the process of employing an expatriate in Nigeria is not as complex as many people were made to believe. It is therefore important to the employers, employees and the general public to know and take note of the procedures of legally employing expatriates in Nigeria so as to avoid encountering undue embarrassment at the point of entry and place of work. For further enquiries contact Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).

See Also:  Interview with A Public Relations Officer, Nigerian Immigration Service (2002)
The Nigerian Immigration Service - A Profile
Procedure For Obtaining The New Nigerian Passport

Sources: excepts from August 2000 issue of The Migrant, a quarterly magazine of the NIS, Zone 'A', Lagos and NigeriaBusinessInfo.com fieldwork.

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