By Bukola Idowu
Nigerians who traveled to the United States of America (USA) as non-immigrants in 2017 had spent a total of N9.733 billion as payment for visa fees, this excludes what was spent by those that obtained immigrant visas and those whose visa applications were rejected.
Figures obtained from the annual report of visa issuance at the United States Foreign Service across the globe shows that a total of 515,434 visas were issued from its consulates across Africa in 2017. Nigeria accounted for 32.78 per cent of the visas issued to 54 countries on the continent.
A total of 168,980 non-immigrant visas were issued to Nigerians in 2017. The USA embassy charges $160, translating to N57,600 as visa fees at both its offices in Lagos and Abuja. This means that those whose applications for immigrant visa were approved jointly paid N9.733 billion as visa fees.
The figure was however lower than the number of visas that were approved in 2016 when the highest number of visas issued to Nigerians was recorded. A total of 179,145 visas had been issued in 2016. The volume of visa issued by the US embassy had been on the rise since 2008 reaching the high in 2016 before the drop last year.
In 2008, the US embassy had issued only 59,748 non-immigrant visas to Nigerians a figure which rose gradually to 83,944 in 2012. The figure however rose sharply in 2013 to 113,503 and has since risen consistently before last year.
It is estimated that more than 220,000 applications are submitted annually by Nigerians for non-immigrant visas to the United States. Figures obtained by LEADERSHIP showed that 1,037 ‘A’ visas, which is meant for representatives of foreign government traveling to the United States to engage in official activities were issued to Nigerian government officials.
A total of 156,104 B1,B2 visas were issued to Nigerians who applied to go to the United states for as temporary visitors for business or pleasure. Trade and transit visa C, D and E visas issued at the Nigerian embassy in 2017 totaled 234 while 7,473 F visas were issued for Nigerian students who left to study in the US.
The data provided showed that 1,276 visas were issued to Nigerians who applied for the J visa which is meant for participants of work-and study-based exchange visitor programs and M visa reserved for vocational and technical schools, while journalists got 149 visas in 2017.
The US embassy had also issued 794 visas to Nigerian diplomats, government officials, and employees who work for international organizations in the United States while 460 H visas were issued to temporary workers in the United States.
Nigerians whose spouse are based in the United States were also issued 744 K visa to enter the country, while international transferees who have worked for a related organization abroad that applied for the L visa got 280. Also 166 visas were issued to athletes and entertainers while religious workers got 241 visas.
President Muhammadu Buhari had recently returned from the US after a visit to President Donald Trump which according to the White House was to discuss ways to enhance the strategic partnership and advance shared priorities of both countries. The discussions during the visit bothered around promoting economic growth and reforms, fighting terrorism and other threats to peace and security, and building on Nigeria’s role as a democratic leader in the region.