Business Visa For Nigeria

It is not surprising that one of the most common queries from people who are planning to relocate to Nigeria is about the business visa for Nigeria. Most of the time, at least for this reason alone, a lot of foreigners are confused about where to begin.

If you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t see the importance of having a business visa for Nigeria, it’s time to change your mind. There are plenty of entrepreneurs who have made millions selling products they got from abroad and they provide a lot of employment. And there are also lots of people who have started off as exporters and importers. So if you would like to jumpstart your own business, here is some guidance on the steps you should take to get a business visa for Nigeria:

In this age of globalisation, people and commerce move from one jurisdiction to another to conduct business or seek employment. Countries have formed economic blocks such as the European Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to guarantee the free movement of goods and people. Nevertheless, most countries require business visas and work permits for foreigners who wish to enter their country for business or employment. To establish this topic it is important to make the distinction between a business visa and a work permit.

A business visa is for tasks that cannot be considered work or gainful employment,[1] whereas a work permit is meant for services that would be considered a job or labour.[2] This is a basic distinction but it is crucial to note that each jurisdiction has its own set of rules as to what is considered labour or worthy of compensation.

This article defines and outlines the use of business visas in Nigeria, how to obtain them and their limitations.

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Business visas

Strictly speaking, a business visa is meant for business relations and meetings that do not involve anything that could be considered labour or gainful employment.[3] What this means is a business visa is not an employer-employee type of visa and is solely for conducting business in another country.

A business visa is one of the categories of visas issued to foreigners by the Nigerian Immigration Service. It is a major immigration requirement of an expatriate intending to conduct business in Nigeria. Applications must be made at a Nigerian Diplomatic Mission, and a foreigner wishing to come to Nigeria for business must have a valid visiting permit not exceeding 90 days.

A business visa enables business visitors to undertake the following activities in Nigeria: to visit Nigeria for the purpose of meetings, conferences, seminars, contract negotiations, marketing, sales, musical concerts, purchase distribution of Nigerian goods, trade fairs, job interviews, emergency/relief work or to train Nigerians in areas such as humanitarian services. A business visa also applies to airline and ships’ crew members, the staff of NGOs, INGOs and researchers.

Once an expatriate has obtained a business visa from the Nigerian Embassy/High Commission in their jurisdiction, the next step is to obtain a business permit, which will enable them to conduct business in Nigeria.

Work permits

A work permit is for people who wish to earn an income or compensation overseas.[4] They are for expatriates who wish to earn a living in another jurisdiction or be remunerated, and will be under the work permit category and therefore require the above-mentioned visa.

The Temporary Work Permit (TWP) is the most common type of work permit in Nigeria. It is specifically for immigrants who enter Nigeria to undertake a specific job for a temporary period, usually three months. A TWP needs to be approved by the Minister of Interior before the expatriate travels and is only for specific jobs. Mostly, it is only for jobs where there is a lack of labour supply in Nigeria. This visa is available to skilled workers and contractors whose skills are being paid for by corporations or non-profits.[5]

The lists of documents required for a TWP are:

  • current passport;
  • completed visa application form;
  • confirmation of online payment;
  • two passport-sized photos;
  • copy of the Comptroller-General’s approval cable visa that lists the applicant’s name;
  • letter of introduction from host organisation in Nigeria; and
  • covering letter from employer bringing employee into the country.[6]

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