U.S. imposes visa hike on Nigerians

The United States Embassy in Nigeria has announced an increase in the price of visa for Nigerians with effect from Thursday in retaliation to increased cost of obtaining Nigeria’s by its citizens.

This is coming few days after 77 Nigerians were named as suspects in a fraud syndicate that swindled many Americans of millions of dollars.

With the announcement, 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 it 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 the H4 category (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.

According to a statement from the US Embassy, “effective worldwide on August 29, Nigerian citizens will be required to pay a visa issuance fee, or reciprocity fee, for all approved applications for non-immigrant visas in B, F, H1B, I, L, and R visa classifications.”

It said the reciprocity fee would be charged in addition to the non-immigrant visa application fee, also known as the MRV fee, which all applicants pay at the time of application, adding that Nigerian citizens whose applications for a non-immigrant visa were denied would not be charged the new reciprocity fee.

The US said both reciprocity and MRV fees were non-refundable, and their amounts vary based on visa classification.

The statement said the US law required US visa fees and validity periods to be based on the treatment afforded to US citizens by foreign governments, insofar as possible, saying that issuance fees were implemented under the principle of reciprocity: when a foreign government imposed additional fees on US citizens, the United States would impose reciprocal fees on citizens of that country.

“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 total cost for a US 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 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 18 months of review and consultations, the government of Nigeria has not changed its fee structure for U.S. citizen visa applicants, requiring the US Department of State to enact new reciprocity fees in accordance with our visa laws,” the statement said.

It explained that the reciprocity fee would be required for all Nigerian citizens worldwide, regardless of where they were applying from to visit the United States.

The US Government said the reciprocity fee was required for each visa that was issued, which meant both adults and minors whose applications were approved would be charged the reciprocity fee.

“The fee can only be paid at the US Embassy or the US Consulate General. The reciprocity fee cannot be paid at banks or any other location,” it said. NAN