• Friday, June 14, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Nigeria loses €3.4 million from Schengen visa rejections

Nigeria loses €3.4 million in reverse remittances from Schengen visa rejections

Nigerians incurred €3.4 million in losses from Schengen visa application rejections in 2023, recent data has shown.

A total of €3,435,200 (N5.5 billion) in non-refundable visa application fees was lost due to high rejection rates for Schengen visas, a phenomenon referred to as ‘reverse remittances’.

This trend has been particularly burdensome for African countries, who are impacted the most considering that the many have some of the lowest wages in the world.

“Historically, Africans have been among the top Schengen visa applicants. Alongside filing most visa requests, they are also the most rejected applicants,” the report said.

Africans collectively spent €56.3 million on Schengen visa applications last year, with up to 704,000 applications denied, according to the Schengen visa data.

This amount represented 43.1 percent of all visa-related expenditures.

“The high number of rejected visa applications has caused African nationals to spend millions every year…benefitting no one b ut the EU countries, Schengen,” it said.

The non-refundable nature of visa fees increases the financial strain on applicants, turning these payments into a win-lose situation for Africa where the continent occasionally experiences the latter.

The financial burden might deteriorate as the EU implements a 12.5 percent hike in visa fees from June 11, 2024, raising the cost from €80 to €90 per application.

Consequently, the total expenses for African applicants are projected to rise to €63 million.

Marta Foresti, founder of research and policy community, Local Action on Global Opportunities (LAGO) Collective, commented on the implications of this visa inequality.

“Visa inequality has very tangible consequences and the world’s poorest pay the price. You can think of the costs of rejected visas as ‘reverse remittances’, money flowing from poor to rich countries. We never hear about these costs when discussing aid or migration, it is time to change that,” Foresti said.

A recent EU Observer study revealed that the Schengen visa rejections generated €130 million in 2023 alone, a 15 percent increase from the previous year when revenue of €105 million was recorded.

African and Asian countries bear 90 percent of these costs, underscoring the disproportionate impact on many of its fragile regions.

In February, BusinessDay reported that remittances to Nigerians fell to their lowest in nearly three years due to scarce foreign exchange and slow growth rates inlarger economies.

BusinessDay analysis of the latest quarterly report from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) shows that remittances inflow to Africa’s biggest economy through official channels fell to $4.58 billion in the third quarter of 2023 from $4.95 billion in the previous quarter.

It also dropped by 4.6 percent from $4.8 billion in Q3 of 2022, when it ranked ninth among top remittances recipients globally, with $20.13 billion.

In Nigeria, diaspora remittances are the second-largest source of foreign exchange inflow, following only crude oil earnings.