Nigeria and the United States of America (USA) have commenced implementation of a five-year visa regime with effect from June 1, this year.
This is based on the principle of reciprocity in diplomatic relations which ensures that countries reciprocate the diplomatic moves of others no matter how big or small, weak or powerful they may be.
With the commencement of the new regime, any Nigerian that approaches the American authorities for visa would get the five years multiple visa, same for any American seeking a visa to enter Nigeria. This also applies to Nigerian Americans wishing to travel to Nigeria with their American passports. They, too would receive the five years multiple visas to enter Nigeria.
The commencement of the five year visa regime was confirmed to GPNews at different occasions by the Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Ambassador Lot Egopija and former Director of Consular and Legal Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Nicholas Agbo Ella, who was also a former Consul at the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York.
A senior Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) Officer, who pleaded anonymity said the development is very helpful, especially for Nigerians as it would, to a large extent, drastically reduce or eliminate the long queues of people at the US Embassy in Abuja and the Consulate in Lagos.
Usually, visa applicants start queuing, sometimes in the wee hours of the day, with many camping near the Embassy or Consulate, just to be able to get in the line for their visa interviews.
According to the Immigration Officer, the new visa regime means that once as a Nigerian, you get the five-year visa, you can go and come, in and out of the US, without need to return to the US Embassy or Consulate till the next five years. The same applies to Americans or Nigerian-Americans seeking Nigerian visas.
Insisting that Nigeria, ordinarily, is a great and blessed country, especially when compared with other African countries, the Officer said that the country is the toast of the other countries in the west African sub region and the continent in general, noting that Americans, Europeans and other nationals of developed countries are always seeking opportunity to travel to Nigeria for one reason or the other.
All that remains, the Officer stressed, “is for the leaders of the country to get their acts together and get governance right, otherwise the ‘japa’ syndrome will continue, especially with this new five-year multiple visa policy.”
The Officer also confirmed that the US authorities increased their visa fees, and in the spirit of reciprocity, Nigeria also increased her visa fees.