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Nigeria: Review of the Nigeria Immigration Regulation 2017

Latest news on the review of the Nigeria Immigration Regulation 2017

On 20 March 2017 the Nigerian, Honourable Minister of Interior, issued the immigration regulation 2017. The new regulation has an effect on companies that employee foreign nationals and would need to strictly comply with.

Below are the highlights of the regulation, compliance matters and red flags which apply to corporations and foreign nationals

Business Permit

Foreign nationals must obtain a business permit before beginning a profession, business or trade in Nigeria. Business permits does not grant the holder resident status, therefore the holder must also apply for a visa or permit to reside in Nigeria.

As part of the regulation there will be a penalty if business permits are not renewed, as the renewal of business permits is a new rule as part of the regulation, further guidance is anticipated.

Residence Permit

The comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service (CGI) is responsible for the issuance of residence permits to immigrants that intend to reside in Nigeria.

The regulation states that the residence permit will be granted for up to two years only, which confirms expatriate can obtain a residence permit for more than one year.

Please note the validity of the residence permit is subject to the validity of the expatriate quota.

Foreign nationals awaiting regularization can re-enter into the country within ninety days from the date of endorsement. The date of endorsement within the passport is the date for re-entry purposes and not the date on the Combined Expatriate Resident Permit and Alien Card (“CERPAC”) temporary receipt.

Temporary Work Permit

The Regulations provide for the implementation of the issuance of the Temporary Work Permit (“TWP”) outside the expatriate quota provision. The TWP is a single-entry work visa authorization valid for two to three months subject to the discretion of the CGI. The TWP can be extended the country for another thirty days.

Failure to renew the TWP, but still using the benefits of the permits will result in a penalty of three year imprisonment term or a fine of five hundred thousand Naira equivalent to USD 1500, if convicted.

Visa or Arrival

There has been some recent changes to VoA which has been extended to business travelers

Read more about the recent changes on VoA

All foreign nationals are eligible for VOAs, but they must have in- country pre- approval before travel. On March 23rd, an online business visa-on-arrival platform was launched by the Nigeria Immigration Service enabling issuance of pre-approval visas to eligible applicants within 48 hours.

Expatriate Quote

Foreign nationals must have priory authorization from the minster before they establish a business, trade or profession in Nigeria. The foreign national will receive authorization with either a business permit, expatriate quota or both. An action letter will also be given to act as a bar to deportation during the pendency of an application for renewals of the expatriate quota. If the assignee’s quote expires during the renewal process, the company can apply for a stay of action letter allowing the foreign national to remain within the company in Nigeria while the renewal and work permit is Is pending.

Registration of foreign nationals

The regulation introduces a register, to monitor the movement of foreign nationals and is to be maintained in the state of where the foreign national resides.

Once the register is completed the foreign national will receive a certification of registration. If foreign nationals intend to change their residence status or have changes in their situation where it may affect the information provided at registration, they must notify the NIS office within seven days.

Foreign nationals must carry a copy of the certification of registration with them at all times, for when an immigration officer requires seeing this.

Homeowners that lease or rent their property to foreign nationals should ensure their tenant complies with the provisions of the same. Homeowners should also confirm the resident status of foreign nationals before the lease or similar transactions.

Foreign national that will stay in accommodations that is paid for will be requested to provide the following to the owner/ management.

  • full name of the foreign national,
  • last address of the foreign national,
  • occupation or profession of the foreign national,
  • nationality and passport number of the foreign national,
  • date of arrival and departure of the foreign national,
  • destination of the foreign national, and
  • signature of the foreign national

Offences and Penalties

The regulations introduce a penalty system for corporate entities and individuals who breach the Regulations

Corporate Penalties

An organisation that fails to renew expatriate quota or render its expatriate monthly returns is liable to a fine of three million Naira equivalents to USD 9000.

An organisation that also fails to employ local employees to understudy foreign nationals is liable to a fine of three million Naira equivalents to USD 9000 for each month the expatriate quota position has been occupied without understudies. At least two local employees to cover the foreign national is mandatory as part of the expatriate quota grant.

An organisation that allows another company to utilize the expatriate quota position will also face a fine of three million Naira equivalents to USD 9000. In addition, the foreign employee will be deported.

With the new regulation set it is forecast an increase on immigration audits from the NIS to ensure compliance. It is important for Nigerian businesses to also be diligent in carrying out internal audits to stay within the regulation rules.

Individual Penalties

Foreign nationals can be liable to a conviction to a term of three year imprisonment term or a fine of five hundred thousand Naira equivalents to USD 1500 or both if they fail on the following

  • regularize their stay within the prescribed three (3) months,
  • renew their business permit, visitor’s visa, transit visa, TWP after expiration
  • renew their resident permit within thirty (30) days from expiration,

More information

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Immigration team at immigration@sterling.com or call +44(0)20 8836 3359.

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