U.S. blames Fed Govt for changes in visa fees

For years, Americans travelling to Nigeria as tourists or businessmen paid more money as visa fees than Nigerians going to the United States for similar reasons. That will end tomorrow, reports VINCENT IKUOMOLA


NIGERIANS applying for tourism, student, media and business visas to the United States will have to pay issuance fees, the United States Embassy in Nigeria announced on Tuesday. The new fees are aside from the $160 or N59, 200 processing cash for all visa categories.

The embassy adopts the rate of N370 per $1 for Nigerians. The official rate is about N360 to a dollar.

The new policy takes effect tomorrow. For a start, applicants will be given five working days’ grace to compile with the new regime.

For a tourist visa, an extra $110 or N40, 700 will be paid after the visa has been issued to the applicant. Applicants, whose applications are denied, will not need to pay the extra $110.

Applicants seeking the work permit otherwise known as L1 Visa will pay an extra N112, 100 if given visas while those applying for dependency/spousal visa (H4 visa) will pay an extra N66, 600.

The embassy’s statement added that the increment was done based on reciprocity, which means when a foreign government imposes additional visa fees on U.S. citizens, the United States will impose reciprocal fees on citizens of that country for similar types of visas. Until this change, American citizens willing to come to Nigeria were charged higher than Nigerians willing to go to the U.S.

The embassy blamed the Federal Government for the reciprocity fees for refusing to remove the additional cost imposed on Americans.

Its statement reads: “Effective worldwide on 29 August, Nigerian citizens will be required to pay a visa issuance fee, or reciprocity fee, for all approved applications for nonimmigrant visas in B, F, H1B, I, L, and R visa classifications. The reciprocity fee will be charged in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee, also known as the MRV fee, which all applicants pay at the time of application. Nigerian citizens whose applications for a nonimmigrant visa are denied will not be charged the new reciprocity fee. Both reciprocity and MRV fees are non-refundable, and their amounts vary based on visa classification.

“U.S. law requires U.S. visa fees and validity periods to be based on the treatment afforded to U.S. citizens by foreign governments, insofar as possible. Visa issuance fees are implemented under the principle of reciprocity: when a foreign government imposes additional visa fees on U.S. 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 nonimmigrant visa application is approved.

“The total cost for a U.S. citizen to obtain a visa to Nigeria is currently higher than the total cost for a Nigerian to obtain a comparable visa to the United States. The new reciprocity fee for Nigerian citizens is meant to eliminate that cost difference.

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

“The reciprocity fee will be required for all Nigerian citizens worldwide, regardless of where they are applying for a nonimmigrant visa to the United States. 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 can only be paid at the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Consulate General. The reciprocity fee cannot be paid at banks or any other location.”

2017 executive order

President Donald Trump, in a 2017 executive order, pushed for stricter visa reciprocity terms. In the executive order, he urged the secretary of State to “review all non-immigrant visa reciprocity agreements” in respect of validity periods and application fees.

“If a country does not treat United States nationals seeking nonimmigrant 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.

 Dropbox suspension

The embassy had in May suspended its dropbox visa renewal programme for Nigerians with travel history to the United States.

The statement suspending the programme reads: “Effective at the close of business today, Tuesday, May 14, 2019, the US Mission to Nigeria is indefinitely suspending interview waivers for renewals, otherwise known as the ‘Dropbox’ process.

“Visa applications will no longer be accepted by DHL in Nigeria. Those who have already submitted their passports via Dropbox to DHL for processing either at the US Embassy in Abuja or the Consulate General in Lagos, will not be impacted by this change.

“All applicants in Nigeria seeking a non-immigrant visa to the United States must apply online and will be required to appear in person at the US Embassy in Abuja or US Consulate General in Lagos to submit their application for review. Applicants must appear at the location they specified when applying for the visa renewal.

“Processing of diplomatic and official (A, G, and NATO class) visa applications will continue unchanged.”

It added its processing procedures are regularly reviewed to “assess our ability to quickly, efficiently, and securely process visa applications”.


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