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Ambassador Lot Egopija, Consul General of Nigeria in New York

New visa policy: Envoy advises Nigerians travelling with expired passports to check with airlines first

Ambassador Lot Egopija, Consul General of Nigeria in New York

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, Dec. 21, 2022

The Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija has advised Nigerians in the U.S. with expired passports travelling home to cross check with their preferred airlines before purchasing their flight tickets.

Egopija gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) while reacting to the new visa policy of the Federal Government.

The new visa policy states that Nigerians in the diaspora with dual citizenship are free to travel home with their Nigerian passports even if they are expired.

By the policy, they should show their expired Nigerian passports to ensure they are truly from Nigeria.

The envoy confirmed to NAN that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) had issued a circular to Nigerian diplomatic missions abroad to inform airline operators and border authorities of host countries of the policy.

“This new policy has to work with the airlines and some airlines are insisting that some passengers boarding their flights will need Emergency Travelling Certificate (ETC).

“And in that case, we always would tell Nigerians who want to go with expired Passports to check with the airlines to see if the airlines will accept the government’s policy, because we don’t own the airlines.

“But most airlines that fly straight to Nigeria from their bases do not have problems with the directive, but airlines with connecting flights will somehow sometimes hesitate.

“So, we always ask Nigerians, intending travellers, to check with the airlines. Just to make assurance double sure,’’ he said.

According to him, most airlines have accepted the government’s decision to allow Nigerians with expired passports to travel home but the nationals need to cross check with the airlines before purchasing their tickets.

Egopija, however, said that the Consulate had been working hard to ensure that Nigerians that applied for Passports get them before travelling.

The Envoy said the Consulate had also gone to Michigan, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Indiana for Passport intervention exercises to provide Passports for Nigerian nationals in those states.

According to him, Michigan had the highest number with between 450 and 500 people that were attended to and “we’ve been able to deliver about 80 per cent Passports in Michigan.

“We are now working with the Immigration headquarters to ensure that the remaining Passports are delivered. The same thing goes for all the other places.

“We have not been able to produce those of Wisconsin and Indianapolis (Indiana) because we went there very late, and it fell within the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) period in September ending.

“But this week, we have started consciously to make sure that the passports are produced and that the people who would travel get their Passports before they travel.

“But that also brings to mind the fact that many of the people who want to travel now have another opportunity to travel to Nigeria, even with expired Passports, with the recent government’s decision to allow Nigerians travel with expired Passports.

Egopija also assured Nigerians in his area of coverage of improved service delivery in the coming year, saying, “we have a pact with them, and we will continue to do everything to improve our service delivery.’’

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