NIGERIA is considering imposing visa restrictions on visitors from the US and several other countries in response to them introducing similar limitations on the rights of Nigerians to visit their countries.
In January this year, the US said it would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar. Mohammed Babandede, the comptroller-general of the Nigeria Immigration Service, said that in response, Abuja may reciprocate the visa restriction regime.
Among other things, the US has also introduced reciprocity fees for Nigerians thereby nearly doubling the cost of obtaining a visa based on the premise that Americans seeking Nigerian visa were paying too much to secure it. Mr Babandede said that Nigeria’s new visa policy is reciprocal in nature, pointing out that like the US, Nigeria has the right to dictate who it allows in or restricts from entering the country.
He added: “I can tell you that US is a country, it is a nation like Nigeria. They have the right to restrict who will enter their territory or not just like we can restrict US citizen or whomsoever from entering Nigeria.
“So they have the right but I want people to know that visa restriction is not a visa ban, it is a ban for people who want to take residency not people who want to go for short visits. You are aware that President Muhammadu Buhari just launched a new visa policy for Nigeria, the visa policy has 79 classes of visa.
So, we will be in a position to say to countries, if you allow us for short visits we will allow you for short visits and if you stop us from other visits, we do the same because the new visa policy is based on reciprocity. So, we will test this for a year and see those who reciprocate and we take actions for those who do otherwise.”