The changing face of Immigration compliance in Nigeria
Improved process, enhanced scrutiny
One of the initiatives used in achieving operational efficiency is the Visa on Arrival (VOA) facility. This facility ensures that upon payment of appropriate fees and compliance with other requirements, a business visa (which does not permit employment in Nigeria) is issued upon the foreigner's arrival in Nigeria
As the largest economy in Africa and the major business hub in West Africa, Nigeria has huge inward foreign investment which comes with the attendant immigration issues surrounding employment of expatriates. In this regard, there have been a lot of negative publicity on the management of migrants in Nigeria over the years, with some people alleging laxity in controlling the influx of migrants into Nigeria. On the other hand, migrants and their employers, mostly multinational companies (MNCs), appearing dissatisfied about the timeliness of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in addressing immigration issues and the level of professionalism.
In a bid to curb this perceptions about immigration activities, NIS, the primary immigration regulatory body set up pursuant to the Immigration Act 1963, has in recent times taken giant steps in facilitating high standards of migrant policies. NIS has championed numerous laudable reforms which has rightly positioned it to achieve its set objective in line with the transformational agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The reforms can be largely viewed in two major prongs: streamlined operational processes thereby enhancing perception about efficiency of its operations on the one hand and aggressive monitoring of compliance on the other.
On its operational efficiency and perception enhancement, NIS has streamlined the hitherto cumbersome and tedious immigration procedures for resident expatriates. This has reduced the mobility burden for MNCs and facilitated a better transfer of technology to Nigerians.
One of the initiatives used in achieving operational efficiency is the Visa on Arrival (VOA) facility. This facility is available to high net worth investors, directors of MNCs and other persons in similar categories. This facility ensures that upon payment of appropriate fees and compliance with other requirements, a business visa (which does not permit employment in Nigeria) is issued upon the foreigner's arrival in Nigeria.
While NIS seeks to enhance its perception as a professional agency, it has not lost sight of its compliance monitoring obligations which are aimed at ensuring international best practices. It has therefore embarked on the following initiatives:
- Electronic Passenger Automated Registration System (e-PARS): under this, NIS built a proper database of migrants arriving and departing the country through international airports. This is much better than the erstwhile manual procedure (mere stamping) and has ensured reduction of the number of migrants that would have attempted to enter or leave the country without valid documents. Therefore, MNCs and HR/Mobility teams should ensure the expatriates possess relevant and valid documentation to avoid sanctions.