Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Federal government has decreased visa charges for US citizens with effect from Thursday in reaction to the recent hike in the United States visa fee.
In a statement by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Interior, Mohammed Manga, the ministry noted: “The attention of the ministry has been drawn to the introduction of reciprocity of visa fees by the United States of America.
“The ministry acknowledges that there were engagements with the United States Embassy on the issue and in the aftermath, a committee was set up to conduct due diligence in line with the ministry’s extant policy on reciprocity of visa fees.
“The committee had concluded its assignment and submitted a report but the issuance of authorisation for its recommendations was delayed due to transition processes in the ministry at the policy level.
“The Honourable Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has approved the decrease of visa charges payable by US citizens in line with reciprocity policy as recommended by the committee,” the statement read.
Accordingly, the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, has been directed to implement the decrease in Nigeria’s visa charges for US ctizens with effect from Thursday, August 29, 2019.”
The United States Embassy in Nigeria had on Tuesday hiked its visa free effective from Thursday, August 29, 2019.
According to the statement from the US Embassy, “Nigerians applying for tourism, student and business visas will not only pay the N59, 200 fee but will have to pay an extra $110 (N40,700) after the visa has been issued to them bringing the total cost to N99,900.
“However, applicants who are denied visas would not need to pay the extra N40, 700. Applicants seeking the L1 Visa (work permit) will pay an extra N112, 100 if given visas while those applying for H4 Visa (dependency/spousal) will pay an extra N66, 600. The US Embassy adopts the rate of N370/$1 for Nigerians which is higher than both the official rate and the black market rate.”
The increment also comes amid complaints from hundreds of Nigerian visa applicants that they had not been able to secure US visa appointment dates despite making payments for visas.
The embassy said in a statement that the increment was done based on reciprocity.
It lamented that Americans were paying too much to secure Nigerian visas and thus the US government decided to retaliate.
The US embassy said it had been holding talks with the Nigerian government to reduce the fee but the Federal government refused to accede to its requests.
The directive comes less than four months after the US cancelled the drop box system for Nigerian visa applicants which used to allow Nigerians who had a travel history to the US to apply for visas without going for interviews at the embassy.