By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA— The Federal Government has reviewed visa processes for foreigners who wished to visit Nigeria for business and tourism purposes.
According to government, the essence of the review is to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks and encourage business travellers and tourists, thus giving a boost to the economy.
A statement issued, yesterday, by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the measures were part of the action plan for the ease of doing business as well as efforts to boost tourism, within the overall context of the administration’s economic diversification agenda.
He said: “The Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, has reviewed the requirements for Nigerian visas to make them more customer-friendly, and details of this review are available on the NIS official website, www.immigration.gov.ng.
“Types of visas currently reviewed include visa on arrival (VoA) processes, business visas, tourist visas and transit visas,” the minister said.
*Mrs. Rose Chinyere Uzoma, Controller-General, Nigeria Immigration Service
Alhaji Mohammed explained that business visas were available for foreign travellers who wished to travel to Nigeria for meetings, conferences, seminars, contract negotiation, marketing, sales, purchase and distribution of Nigerian goods, trade fairs, job interviews, training of Nigerians,emergency/relief work, crew members, staff of NGOs, staff of researchers and musical concerts.
He said tourist visas were also available to foreign travelers who wished to visit Nigeria for the purpose of tourism or to visit family and friends.
The minister said other actions that had been taken by the NIS for the ease of doing business and facilitation of travelling for Nigerians and foreigners alike include the harmonization of multiplicity of airport arrival and departure form/cards into a single form for all agencies of government to save foreign visitors from the current frustrating practice of filling three different forms or more and the decentralization of immigration services to state commands.
‘’Re-issuance of passports for change of names due to marital reasons or lost cases have been decentralized to all state commands and foreign missions to save passport holders from additional costs and inconvenience of travelling to the Service headquarters in Abuja, while additional 28 offices have been opened for issuance of Residence Permits in Nigeria, bringing the issuance of Combined Expatriate Residence Permit And Aliens Cards (CERPAC) closer to the doorstep of employers of expatriates in all 36 states and FCT,’’ he said.
The Minister said the measures by NIS fit perfectly into the 60-day national action plan for ease of doing business in Nigeria approved recently by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, and the administration’s efforts to boost international tourism.