Visas And Permits Under The Nigerian Immigration Law -By Khalid Abdulkareem

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1.0.      Introduction


The sources of the Nigerian Immigration Law are divided into primary and secondary sources. The primary sources mainly consist of the Immigration Act, 2015, Immigration Regulations, 2017 and the Nigerian Visa Policy, 2020, while the secondary sources are the 1999 Constitution as altered and Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010. Embeddedunder these laws are visas and permits that must be obtained by foreigner desirous of entering into the country for one reason or the other. The Nigerian Immigration Service is the body statutorily mandated and empowered to issue or grant such visas and permit.  This article serves as a summary exposition of these relevant visas and permits.

2.0.     Classes of visas available under the Nigerian Law

The categories of visas existing and obtainable by expatriate under the Nigerian law include the following;

  • Transit Visa/ Entry Permit[2]


This visa is applicable to foreigners travelling to destinations other than Nigeria but having reason to stop in Nigeria with visa to their destination. To be eligible, such foreigner must have a confirmed ticket to his/her final destination with adequate fund.


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  • Business Visa[3]

Business Visa is meant for foreigners who are interested in establishing business or investment in Nigeria. It is valid for the period of three months but is invalid for employment purposes.


  • Tourist Visa

Foreigners wishing to visit Nigeria for the purpose of tourism or to visit family and friends are required to obtain tourist visa. Requirement for issuance of tourist visa includes; evidence of sufficient funds, evidence of hotel accommodation and flight itinerary. The visa is not valid for employment.

  • Diplomatic Visa

Apart from being entitled to diplomatic immunity, diplomats and member of their families are also entitled to diplomatic visas. Eligibility to diplomatic visa also extends to visiting head of states and their families, top officials of government and their families, members of accredited international non-governmental organisations and international organisations.



The Visa on Arrival channel is available at the port of entry into the Country. This is available for those whose visa application falls within the qualifying classes of visas; these include frequent business travellers, emergency relief workers and holders of passports of African Union countries.


  • Subject to Regularisation Visa (STR)

Foreigners who seek to work with individuals, corporate bodies or governments in Nigeria need a STR to do so. Where the position to be occupied by the foreigner is Chief Executive Officer of the Corporate Organisation, there will be need for the extract of the minutes of the Board’s resolution.


  • Temporary Work Permit Visa[4]

This is a short-term employment (TWP visa) is a single entry work visa issued to foreign nationals to carry out short-term specialised work such as; Audits and accounts, consultancy services, installation and repairs of specialised equipment and machineries , maintenance repairs and feasibility studies. A TWP may be extended for two months with the approval of the Comptroller General of Immigration.


  • Expatriate Quota[5]

Expatriate Quota is an approval granted to companies or registered firms to employ the services of expatriates with relevant competences. One significant use of the expatriate quota is that it is meant to create an avenue for Nigerian employees to understudy their expatriate counterparts during the validity of its issuance.

The two types of expatriate quota positions are;[6]

  • Permanent Until Review (PUR)[7]

The PUR expatriate quota is granted on a permanent basis usually to the benefit of a person occupying a top management position in the company e.g. Chairman or Managing Director.[8] The essence of applying for and obtaining the PUR is to exclude these employees from the hassle that may be experienced in the course of periodic renewal of residence permits and also to ensure that the local company is able to protect its investment.[9]


  • Temporary Expatriate Quota

This type of expatriate quota is usually reserved for the position of Director and other employees of the company for between one and three years.

  • Combined Expatriate Residence Permit And Aliens Card (CERPAC)[10]

The CERPAC is a permission granted to Foreigners to live and work in Nigeria for up to two years, which is subject to renewal and validity of the expatriate quota. It is a work and resident permit required for any foreigner to reside in Nigeria for any lawful purposes excluding Diplomats; Government Officials, Niger Wives[11]; and Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who are granted CERPAC gratis. The card is valid for two years, after which application for revalidation must be made.


The two type of CERPAC are;

  • CERPAC Green Card

This card allows foreigner to reside in Nigeria and carry out an approved activity as stated on the permit or to accompany a resident or citizen of Nigeria as a dependant.


  • CERPAC Brown Card

This card is mainly a movement chart for every foreigner in Nigeria or visiting with the intention to remain in the country beyond 56 days in accordance with registration requirement under the law. It is also applicable to crew members leaving their ship and staying ashore in excess of 28 days.


3.0.     Concluding Remarks

Conclusively, this piece has basically dealt with some of the required visas and/or permits that foreigners seeking to come in to the Country must obtain. Where any foreigner is found wanting or guilty of non-compliance with the requirements as set out under the Immigration Law would be subjected to stringent penalties – ranging from administrative fines to imprisonment and deportation.




Profile of Khalid Adulkareem:

Khalid Adulkareem is an associate at Omaplex Law Firmwith broad and in depth understandingin the following areas Immigration Law and  Intellectual Property Law,he has  advised and facilitated several transactions including commercialization of their intellectual property rights and other areas.


* L. B. Tairu; and K. O. Abdulkareem;

[3] Section 37(9) of the Act and Regulation 6(1)- (3)

[4] Section 37(8) of the Act.

[5] Section 36(1) of the Act and Regulation 12 (1) and (2) of the Regulation.  Also, under Section 33 (1) of the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010 operators shall make application to, and receive the approval of, the Nigerian Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board before making any application for expatriate quota to the Ministry of Internal Affairs or any other agency or Ministry of the Federal Government

[6] It is instructive that there are circumstances where additional expatriate quota may be granted and that an expatriate quota may also be re-designated.

[7] Adekunle Obebe, “Nigeria Immigration Law & Practice” (1st Edition, 2017 BLP Publication Service) 54

[8] In practice, the ‘Grantee’ of a PUR Quota applies for revalidation after 10 years of its grant even though no law provides for such revalidation. Ibid.


[10]< last assessed on the 4September 2020>

[11] Niger wives is a residence permit for wives of Nigerian National

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