• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Countries Nigerians can visit without visas amid mounting restrictions

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One of the major things travellers look out for while choosing a destination to visit is how strenuous it is to obtain a visa. After the COVID-19 restrictions on travels and countries started opening up again, travel enthusiasts in Nigeria were excited that it was time again to explore the world.

But countries started putting up new travel restrictions in the form of removal of visa-on-arrival, eVisas and other ways that previously made travel easier, and these are discouraging travellers. Yet, there are still countries that Nigerian passport holders can visit even without obtaining visas ahead.

Visa free countries

With these visa restrictions from various countries, it is interesting to know that there are still countries where Nigerians can still travel without needing visas and some still offer visas on arrival.

Dubai used to be one of the easiest destinations to visit because of the relaxed visa rules but with the new requirements, it may be difficult for some people to meet requirements

Visa on arrival lets travellers obtain your travel permit upon landing in the particular country. It is an easy process for the traveller that saves them from the hassles of never-ending paperwork and standing in long queues. A Visa on arrival is issued for the definitive time period with the reason of visit and duration of stay needed to be mentioned in the paper.

The e-Visa is an alternative to the Visa that lets travellers apply for Visa online. The traveller is required to produce all the data on the given e-Visa portal of the country in order to obtain the permission to enter the country. The fee for e-Visa is paid by an electronic medium like a credit card or internet banking.

When the application is approved, the visa is sent to the email and can be downloaded. One of the major benefits of e-Visa is that you don’t have to wait at the airport after arrival in the country. This will save you from the paperwork, the hassle of queues and documentation.

Both Visa on Arrival and e-Visa have been made for the travellers who like to experience a stress-free travel and enjoy a memorable vacation by reaping the benefits of e-Visa.

As of September 2022, there are a total of 25 visa free countries for Nigerian citizens. Apart from these countries, other countries offer a visa-on-arrival or e-visa programme to Nigerian passport holders. This brings up the number of visa free, visa on arrival and eVisa destinations in 47 countries.

Visa free, visa on arrival and eVisa destinations for Nigerian citizens in Africa include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Cabo Verde, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Visa free, visa on arrival and eVisa destinations for Nigerian citizens in Asia include Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Timor-Leste.

For North and South America, Nigerians can visit Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Fiji, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Suriname with visa free, visa on arrival and eVisas.

Countries offering visa free, visa on arrival and eVisas in Oceania include Fiji, Micronesia, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

No e-visas to Turkey

Three months ago, Turkey barred Nigerians from accessing its e-visa provisions and has advised Nigerians to apply via any Turkish Consulate.

UAE tight visa regulations

Two months ago, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government began to immediately tighten the visa regulations for Nigerians travelling into the UAE.

In the updated visa portal, there are three new Nigerian requirements mandatory for all visa applicants to provide.

These requirements are to be scanned and uploaded in the visa portal as provided to enable the applicant complete and submit visa application online.

The three updated requirements are Hotel reservation/place of stay in UAE, six-month bank statement and return flight ticket.

While the UAE government did not state any specific reason for the new requirement, but travel experts have said the decision was taken to reduce the influx of persons with criminal intent into the country.

Before now, Dubai did not only serve as a transit destination to several countries across the world but was also a major travel and tourism destination for Nigerians.

Susan Akporiaye, president of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) told BusinessDay that before now, Dubia used to be one of the easiest destinations to visit because of the relaxed visa rules but with the new requirements, it may be difficult for some people to meet requirements to process their visas.

Akporiaye said a lot of travellers, especially tourists love to stay with their families and friends and share hotel rooms with friends when they visit Dubai but with the new rules, it means for all the days they will stay in Dubai, they have to pay for a hotel, which can be very expensive.

“Travellers are already paying so much to travel because of the dollar scarcity and high air fares. The new visa rules would double the troubles of travellers as they would have to source for more money to pay for hotels and boost their accounts to be able to visit Dubai.

“When the UAE authority sees that the traffic from Nigeria has reduced, they will have to review these new rules. As it is, Dubai is no longer affordable,” Akporiaye said.

She also disclosed that while the UEA government did not specify the amount that should be in people’s accounts to qualify them to get visas, some travel agents allege that passengers who do not have up to N2.5million in their bank account are not being given visas in recent times.

BusinessDay’s checks show that about 15 percent of international travellers in Nigeria are UAE bound travellers. This implies that out of the about 2.5 million annual international travels in Nigeria, about 377,000 Nigerians averagely visit the country annually either for business or tourism.

SA’s visa denials, delays

No doubt one of the most frequently visited destinations in Nigeria is South Africa.

While the South African government has not issued any statement to show that there are any form of restrictions on visas issued to Nigerians, applicants have continued to complain over consistent outright delays or denials of visas to Nigerians.

Air Peace two months ago announced that it will be suspending its Johannesburg flight operations from August 22 till October 8, 2022 due to the delayed issuance of South African visas to travellers.

The carrier also cited aviation fuel scarcity, worsening forex crunch and the increasing cost of aviation but stressed that the consistent visa denials have since affected its passenger traffic on the Johannesburg route.

Read also: Two-year US visa interview delay frustrates Nigerians

According to the airline, having informed the South African High Commission in Lagos of the effects of the difficulty in getting SA visas by Nigerians, which consequence is the abysmally low passenger loads on its flights to and from Johannesburg, it believes that the situation will have improved within the next 60 days, “hence, our willingness to resume operations on the October 8, 2022,” the airline stated.

As a result of the visa delays and denials, applicants for visas have had to cancel travel plans in recent times.

U.S long interview duration

Another destination that could be a hard nut to crack is the United States. While an interview in person has always been the case for the U.S, the long wait in securing interview dates, which is a key requirement to be given a visa, is discouraging travel to the United States.

BusinessDay’s checks show that the earliest date to get interviews is in 2025 as the ‘Drop Box’ option is only open for those whose visas expired within a space of two years.

Any applicant, whose visa expired beyond two years and those who are applying for the first time, will have to apply to get interview dates, thereby going through the long wait process.

Applicants for U.S. visas are required to appear in person for a visa interview at the Embassy in Abuja or the Consulate General in Lagos. Applicants are required to schedule an appointment for the interview, either online using this website or through the call center.

Apart from students, those travelling for emergencies and medicals, the earliest interview dates are three years from now, according to Nigeria’s US consulate portal.

Ethiopia’s ban on visa-on-arrival

The latest is Ethiopia’s ban on issuance of visas on arrival to Nigerians.

While the country has offered two options of either obtaining their visas at Ethiopian embassy in Abuja before travelling or obtaining its eVisas, this development would change the narrative of travel into Ethiopia.