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Application must be made to the Director of Immigration, Immigration Department, Federal Ministry of Internal Affair; Abuja. The application must be in two copies and accompanied by a letter from the Nigerian Company wising to employ, plus valid passport. The form is obtained from Immigration Department of Consular Authorities in applicant’s home country.



Economic reforms embarked upon by Government particularly in the area of local business laws made it incumbent for the liberalization of the “Protectionist” regulatory regime that hitherto governed foreign investment in Nigeria. One of the major factors that will either enhance or militate Government’s desired goals is the current immigration legislation applicable to foreigners that desire to invest or work in Nigeria.

 Most prospective foreign investors have heard such dismal stories about immigration formalities in Nigeria. Reports from their home countries have painted such a sordid picture of the operation of the relevant authorities which handle immigration permits and as a result most foreigners are unaware of the privileges and responsibilities occurring to them under Nigerian immigration law.

Nigeria immigration regulations can be found in the Immigration Act of 1963. This Act has been modified by various guidelines and circular emanating from the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Apart from this regime, there also exist a body of laws and decrees that govern foreign investment. These laws also provide some immigration requirement for prospective foreigners wishing to invest and work in Nigeria. We shall examine these various legal regimes and also provide a guide to the various immigration permits that are available.


When a prospective foreign investor wants to scout for the various investment opportunities available in Nigeria, he may apply at the Nigeria consulate or embassy in his visit period.

 Another temporary immigration permit that is open to a foreigner who for example has been employed by a foreign parent company that has a Nigeria subsidiary company is the temporary work employment visa. This visa is solely by the authority and at the discretion of the comptroller General of Immigration service. It is granted primarily to a foreigner that has been invited for a specific purpose, for instance to install machinery or offer technical service to the Nigerian subsidiary. The visa is also restrictive in application, in the sense that such foreigners immediately depart the country upon the completion of his assignment.

 Mention must also be made of a stop gap immigration permit that is normally granted to foreigners prior to his employers obtaining or renewing the necessary quota position. This permit is known as the STR Visa the subject to regularization visa. This visa simply enables an expatriate who has been offered employment in Nigeria to reside in the country pending when the application is duly processed.


There are however more permanent form of permits that are available for foreigners who intended to reside in Nigeria for a long duration.

 There are three major types of immigration permits available for foreign employment. They are the expatriate quotas, business permit and residence permit. The business permits:

The business permit is a permit granted by a relevant authority- to a business that has foreign equity holdings, this permit normally states the name of the intended shareholders or their representatives and provides the nature and sphere of business to be engaged in and the location of the business. After 1988, the industrial development coordination Committee (IDCC) was the authority that grant newly established companies with foreign participation such business existing business permits still have to apply to the Ministry of Internal Affair for such amendments. 

Expatriate quota allocations:

The expatriate quota as it name implies envisages an allocation of a permit from the relevant authority to a company desirous of employing foreigners. Nigerian companies with foreign shareholding and employee normally apply for such papers on behalf of the foreign partners or employees.

 The quota allocation granted to companies to employing foreigners normally state their designations, qualification and duration of their stay. There are two types of quota position, the ordinary quota position or the permanent until review (PUR) quota position. It must be noted position in normally attached to the company and not the individual expatriate for whom such application for a quota is made. This is why the quota normally referred to as established quota. Quota allocations are readily available to companies that require transfer of technology which necessitate the assistance of expatriates who is skilled in the operation of such technology. The PUR is special quota posited. It is called pur in that it has not life span attached to it when granted. It is given as a key quota to companies with considerable foreign participation that considered such as their life wire. Such quota allocation is normally grantee only on the position the Managing Director or General Manager. Until the formal constitution of the Nation Investment promotion Commission, the Ministry of Internal Affairs grants such quota allocation for a dollar denominated fee payable in the currency or its Naira equivalent.

 “With regard to these quota position, there are certain factors that may impede their grant, for instance, the relevant authority will never consider an application for a quota allocation for positions that can be effectively handled by Nigerians.”

 The Residence permit:

The residence permit as its name implies allows a foreigner desirous of taking up residency in Nigeria to do the same. An application for such a permit must be supported by certain documents including a letter of appointment from a Nigerian employer, acceptance of offer of employment, curriculum vitae, and vetted credentials from their embassy or high commission. Form Imm22 to be given Nigerian embassy, a copy of approved quota position and letter from the company employing the expatriate requesting for such regularization 

 What about Expatriate Spouses?

 A married expatriate who enters into Nigeria to take up employment will want to ascertain also what Immigration rights or privileges are applicable to his or her spouse. The immigration Act for instance provides an expatriate wife with the right to take up employment in vocations such as teaching, operation of boutiques and stores by virtue of her husband’s residence permit will duly be endorsed with an approval granted by the immigration department of the ministry of Internal Affairs and such approval will be endorsed as a temporary work permit.

 Immigration Requirement At The Point Of Entry Into Nigeria:

Most foreigners visiting Nigeria for the first time have a terrifying preconceived impression of immigration formalities and requirements at our airport. Yet, Nigeria immigration conditional ties at the point of entry are not as daunting as they appear especially if the concerned visitor is well armed with appropriate document. Must importantly all foreigners at the point of entry are expected to have their passports and all relevant immigration permits. They are also entitled to bring in hard currency required to cover the cost of their stay in Nigeria. The likely authorities foreigners will encounter at the airport are the

 “With regard to these quota positions, there are certain factors that may impede their grand. For instance, the relevant authority will never consider an application for a quota allocation for positions that can be effectively handled by Nigerians”

Immigration officers who will ensure that all immigration papers are in order, possibly the State Security Officers who may wish to ascertain that such a visitor is not one that could pose a security risk while the Custom officers will check to see if the visitor has any durable goods to declare. It is however advisable for your host to meet you at the airport top avoid unnecessary inconvenience at the airport.


Recent Modification to Immigration Law; The relevant authority that normally grants all the afore mentioned permits is the Ministry of Internal Affair. It must be noted however that after the promulgation of the International Development Coordination Decree of 1988, all companies incorporated thereafter obtained their necessary immigration requirement from the International Development Co-ordination Committee (IDCC).

 The provision of Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission Decree of 1995 which provide for the establishment of a commission to coordinate all matters to foreign investment and expedite the process of the registration and incorporation of foreign enterprises would appear to make the IDCC obsolete.

But it will appear that until this body is inaugurated, the IDCC under its transitional saving technically carry out its existing functions along side that of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Another modification to the existing immigration regimes is with regards to the joint ventures operators in the upstream sector of the oil industry. Under the “New deal” directives issued by the minister of Petroleum Resources in August last year, all application must now be routed through the directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR) before they can be considered by the ministry of Internal  Affairs. In addition-such companies would have to file their mouthy returns on their existing quota position with the DPR.

 With the promulgation of Oil and Export Free Zone Decree in 1966, approved enterprises operating under the zone may apply directly to the Oil and Export Free Zone Authority for immigration requirements.