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Nigeria bows to U.S. pressure as it reduces visa fees for American citizens

August 29, 2019 at 09:00 am | News

Mildred Europa Taylor

Mildred Europa Taylor | Associate Editor

August 29, 2019 at 09:00 am | News

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and U.S. President Donald Trump. Pic credit: Reuters

The Nigerian government has reduced visa charges for Americans visiting the West African nation following pressure it received from the U.S. to review its charges.

The U.S. has had talks with the Nigerian government to reduce its visa fees for U.S. citizens, but this failed to yield results, forcing the Trump administration to take retaliatory action by increasing visa fees for Nigerians seeking to travel to America.

Calling it the ‘reciprocity fee’, the new visa charge, announced on Tuesday, will take effect from Thursday, August 29 and will only apply to those whose visa applications have been approved.

Just days after this announcement, Nigeria’s Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola has told journalists that the government has approved a reduction in visa charges for U.S. citizens from $180 to $150.

It is now unknown if the U.S. government will respond to this and withdraw the new visa fee it had decided to implement from Thursday.

U.S. authorities, in a statement on Tuesday, said that Nigeria charges U.S. citizens higher fees for visas than Nigerians pay for U.S. visas. The price for a U.S. citizen to get a Nigerian visa was then $180 while the new levies for Nigerians range from $80 to $110, according to the BBC.

“Visa issuance fees are implemented under the principle of reciprocity: when a foreign government imposes additional visa fees on US citizens, the United States will impose reciprocal fees on citizens of that country for similar types of visas. Nationals of a number of countries worldwide are currently required to pay this type of fee after their non-immigrant visa application is approved,” the U.S. embassy in Nigeria said in the statement.

It said: “Since early 2018, the US government has engaged the Nigerian government to request that the Nigerian government change the fees charged to US citizens for certain visa categories. After eighteen months of review and consultations, the government of Nigeria has not changed its fee structure for US citizen visa applicants, requiring the US department of state to enact new reciprocity fees in accordance with our visa laws.

“The reciprocity fee is required for each visa that is issued, which means both adults and minors whose visa applications are approved will be charged the reciprocity fee.”

The fee is also nonrefundable.

The complete reciprocity fee schedule, organized by visa classification, can be found below:

Class Reciprocity Fee
B1 $110
B2 $110
B1/B2 $110
F1 $110
F2 $110
H1B $180
H4 $180
I $210
L1 $303
L2 $303
R1 $80
R2 $80

The Trump administration, in a recent executive order, charged the secretary of State to “review all non-immigrant visa reciprocity agreements” particularly with respect to validity periods and application fees.

“If a country does not treat United States nationals seeking non-immigrant visas in a reciprocal manner, the Secretary of State shall adjust the visa validity period, fee schedule, or other treatment to match the treatment of United States nationals by the foreign country, to the extent practicable,” the executive order read.

The latest reciprocity fee follows criticisms that the U.S. embassy in Nigeria has received for its high rate of visa refusal of Nigerians. 

This May, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria announced stricter visa application processes for Nigerians, suspending the visa interview waiver for Nigerians renewing their U.S. visas.

Before the suspension, Nigerian holders of U.S. visa types B1/B2, F, H, and L could renew their visas online by processing it through DHL using one of several dropbox locations across Nigeria without attending physical interviews, according to the Guardian.

But the new application processes require that henceforth, all applicants, including frequent travellers who used to use the dropbox method would now have to appear for interviews each time they applied.

The U.S. embassy in Nigeria explained that it was taking this step to provide more efficient customer service and promote legitimate travel, but critics said that the move was part of President Donald Trump’s efforts to clamp down on immigration in the U.S.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a total of 29,723 Nigerian immigrants overstayed their visas in the U.S., a situation that has been of great concern to the Trump administration which has taken a tough stance on illegal immigration.

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