Procedure and Requirements for Work Permit and Visas in Nigeria

Introduction

Foreign nationals seeking to enter, work, or reside in Nigeria must meet the country’s Immigration Rules. The Nigeria Immigration Regulations on work permits are outlined in the Immigration Act 2015 and the Immigration Regulations 2017. The agency responsible for issuing work permits to aliens is the Nigeria Immigration Service.

Definition of work permit

Section 116 of the Immigration Act, 2015, defines work permit as a document that allows a non-Nigerian expert to reside and work in Nigeria for specified period of time.

The procedures and requirements for obtaining a work permit in Nigeria

These involve several steps and documents. Here are the processes:

  1. Expatriate Quota

In Nigeria, the Expatriate Quota (EQ) is a form of authorisation granted by the Ministry of Interior to registere businesses and firms to hire foreign nationals for particular positions. Quotas are assigned to the company, not the expatriate. When an expatriate leaves a company, the position reverts to the sponsor. The company may hire another expatriate as long as the quota position is still valid. The goal of the EQ is to ensure that the relevant technology and skills are imparted to Nigerians during the work duration.

  1. Application: The Company seeking to employ a foreigner must apply for an Expatriate Quota from the Ministry of Interior.
  1. Requirements:

To obtain an EQ, companies must submit the following documents:

  • Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Incorporation documents
  • Business Permit (not applicable for companies with 100% indigenous ownership)
  • Feasibility study report
  • Evidence of imported machinery (where applicable)
  • Lease agreement or certificate of occupancy of business premises
  • Latest tax clearance certificate of the company
  • Permit or Certificate from appropriate regulatory body (where the company is involved in oil services, health services, fishing, mining, or construction)
  • Proof of the completed job and the contract’s worth (if the business is involved in building, civil engineering, or construction)
  • Proposed annual salaries for the foreign workers
  • Comprehensive training programs for Nigerian understudies
  • Certificate of Capital Importation (not applicable for businesses with 100% indigenous equity)
  • Bank Reference Letter
  • Completed Immigration Form T1 fully filled out
  1. Approval: The Ministry of Interior grants the quota for a specific period, usually, for a period of three (3) years in the first instance, renewable biennially for two consecutive times within a lifespan of seven (7) years. After receiving positions on the EQ from the Federal Ministry of Interior, foreign employees must apply for a Subject to Regularization Visa from the Nigerian Embassy or diplomatic mission in their country of residence.

II. Subject to Regularization (STR) Visa

The Subject to Regularization (STR) visa is a single-entry visa granted to foreigners who have been invited to Nigeria for long-term employment or business. It enables the transfer of knowledge and expertise from competent expatriates to Nigerians, while also helping businesses grow and increase their operations.

  1. Application: The foreigner applies for an STR Visa from the Nigerian Embassy or diplomatic mission in their country of residence.
  1. Requirements:
  • Passport with at least 6 months validity
  • Completed visa form in quadruplicate with four recent passport photographs
  • Copies of the letter of Expatriate Quota Approval from Ministry of Interior
  • Copies of credentials, certificates, and curriculum vitae, all vetted by a relevant official of Nigerian High Commission/Embassy (English Certified translated copy where applicable)
  • Copies of offer Letter of Employment
  • Four copies of Letter of Acceptance of employment, signed by expatriate
  • Nigeria Immigration Service Visa Payment Receipt and Visa Acknowledge
  • Copy of university/professional qualification
  • Yellow fever vaccination certificate
  • HIV test report

The STR visa is provided for 90 days, during which the expatriate must apply to the Comptroller General of Immigration to regularize the residency and acquire a Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC).

III. CERPAC (Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card)

The Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Alien Card (CERPAC) is a document issued to foreigners to legally live and work in Nigeria. It is a crucial document for expatriates who have been invited to Nigeria for long-term employment or business opportunities.

  1. Application: The foreigner must apply for a CERPAC, which is a long-term work authorization.
  1. Requirements:
  • Copy of Expatriate Quota Approval
  • International passport with STR visa endorsement
  • A duly completed CERPAC statutory form
  • An STR package containing STR documentation received from the Nigerian embassy/consulate
  • Company’s board of directors’ resolution confirming the appointment as director (where applicable)
  • Application letter from the employer requesting Regularisation of stay and accepting Immigration Responsibility (IR) on behalf of the expatriate
  • Letter of Appointment/Employment
  • Acceptance of the Offer of Appointment/Employment
  • Proof of Financial Capacity
  • Payment of Prescribed Fees
  1. Exemptions:

The following people are exempted from applying for CERPAC and are instead granted CERPAC Gratis:

  • Diplomats
  • Government Officials
  • Niger-wives
  • Non-governmental Organisations
  1. Issuance: Upon approval, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) issues a green coloured non-transferrable card, referred to as CERPAC, which is a long-term work authorization.

IV. ECOWAS Residence Card

The ECOWAS Residence Card is a legal authorization issued to citizens of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries to live and work in Nigeria.

  1. Application: ECOWAS nationals must register with the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in their place of residence after becoming resident in Nigeria.

Step-by-Step Process:

  • Visit the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) portal and fill out the online application form
  • Pay the required fees
  • Upload the necessary documents
  • Print the acknowledgment slip
  • Proceed to the NIS office for interview and verification
  1. Requirements:
  2. Application letter for the ECOWAS Residence Card made by the Individual/Employer/Embassy/High Commission/Diaspora Union accepting Immigration Responsibilities:
  • ECOWAS Travel Certificate or National Passport valid for not less than 6 months
  • Photocopy of bio-data page of ECOWAS Travel Certificate or National Passport
  • Two copies of applicant’s recent passport photograph
  • Evidence of e-payment i.e. printed payment confirmation page
  • Duly completed and signed application form

Additional documents for employed ECOWAS nationals:

  • Letter of offer of employment
  • Letter of acceptance of an offer of employment
  • Letter from Employer accepting immigration responsibilities;
  • Applicant’s Credentials/ CV where applicable;
  • Evidence of registration with professional bodies (if applicable)
  • Copy of ECOWAS Registration Certificate from LGA of Applicant’s domicile.
  1. Application letter for the ECOWAS Residence Card made by Business owners:
  • Valid ECOWAS Travel Certificate or International Passport;
  • Photocopy of Bio-data and Information page of Passport;
  • 2 copies of applicant’s recent passport photograph;
  • Evidence of e-Payment i.e. printed payment confirmation page;
  • Duly completed and signed Application Form;
  • Letter from Employer accepting immigration responsibilities;
  • Applicant’s Credentials/ CV where applicable;
  • Evidence of Lease/ Ownership of business premises;
  • Certificate of Incorporation of business name with Corporate Affairs Commission;
  • Copy of COT form;
  • Tax Clearance Certificate; and
  • Evidence of Capital Importation (where applicable).

Upon issuance by the Nigerian Immigration, the ECOWAS Residence Card is valid for work in Nigeria and serves as prove of residence in Nigeria.

V. Temporary Work Permit (TWP)

Temporary Work Permit (6 month) is a multiple-entry visa issued to experts invited by corporate bodies to provide specialised skilled services such as after-sales installation/commissioning/upgrading/maintenance/repairs of equipment and machinery, training/capacity building for Nigerian staff, and auditing of machinery/equipment and financial records. It is an authorised visa issued by the Nigerian Embassy with the approval of the Controller General of Immigration. The temporary work permit is valid for a maximum of 90 days from the date of issue.

  1. Application: The corporate body in Nigeria files a formal request to the Comptroller General of Immigration (CGI) on behalf of the expatriate.
  1. Requirements:
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months with at least 2 blank visa pages for endorsement
  • Formal application for R11 Visa from the Employer/ Institution accepting Immigration Responsibility
  • Letter of Offer of Appointment and Acceptance of Offer
  • Educational qualifications and Curriculum Vitae
  • Evidence of financial support
  • Any other document as may be requested by the Nigerian Immigration Service

VI. Business Visa

A business visa permits holder to undertake business, attend business meetings, business conferences, client meetings, create business partnerships, business meetings for a branch of another organisation or their own organisation, and so on but not to work. It is accessible to people of all countries except ECOWAS Nationals who do not need a visa to visit Nigeria and other countries that have entered into visa abolition agreements. Business Visa is valid for 90 days.

  1. Application: The foreign traveler applies for a Business Visa from the Nigerian Embassy or diplomatic mission in their country of residence.
  1. Requirements:
  • Passport with at least 6 months validity
  • Completed visa form in quadruplicate with four recent passport photographs
  • Copies of the letter of invitation from the Nigerian company
  • Copies of the itinerary of the trip
  • Payment of prescribed fees

Conclusion

The procedures and requirements for work permit in Nigeria are complex and involve multiple steps. Foreign nationals seeking to work in Nigeria must first obtain an Expatriate Quota from the Federal Ministry of Interior. 

This quota is issued to companies seeking to employ foreign workers. Once the quota is obtained, the foreign national can apply for a Subject to Regularization (STR) visa, which is a single-entry visa that allows them to enter Nigeria for a period of 90 days. 

During this time, they must apply for a Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC), which is a permanent residence and work permit. The CERPAC is issued by The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and is valid for two years. Foreign nationals can renew the CERPAC for an additional two years, but they must first apply for an extension and provide the required documents.

A work permit is not necessary for certain jobs, such as those with the federal, state, or local governments, or for West African nationals registered with ECOWAS. If an employer fails to secure a legal work permit before hiring a non-Nigerian, both the employer and the employee may face fines or imprisonment.

Note: The content of this article is anticipated to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstance.

By Adeola Oyinlade & Co.

Adeola Oyinlade & Co.; a full-service law firm in Nigeria provides help and offers advisory to both local and foreign clients on immigration related matters including work permit and visas in Nigeria. 

Need help? Kindly contact us using the details below:

Email: info@adeolaoyinlade.com

Mobile: +234 803 826 7683 / +234 802 686 0247