You may want to travel out of the country for a variety of reasons: business, pleasure, to find a greener pasture, or for whatever reason that pleases you. One of the greatest challenges facing potential travelers is getting their visa application accepted and approved on time to facilitate their movement. This has led to the premature death of the ambition of many Nigerians who could not get their visa applications approved for a variety of reasons.
If you want to travel out of the country and don’t want to be another figure on the stat, especially if you are a first-time applicant to the United Kingdom, the United States, and some other developed countries, you do well to pay full attention to the following useful tips that you will find invaluable in getting your visa approved without hitches.
In order to achieve this, you have to meet some basic requirements and pay attention to some useful tips I discuss here. Firstly, what do you need to do?
Meet the basic requirements For Visa Applications
This is an uncontestable fact. Without meeting the basic requirement for visa application, you are at the risk of getting your visa application rejected/denied. That can be devastating on you as your dream of getting a better job opportunity to improve your financial status or get the best education may go up in flames. What are the basic requirements you need to meet? In most cases, the general required documents for are:
- Your birth certificate.
- Your marriage certificate (if married). You can also present an Affidavit if your marriage certificate is not available. If you want to travel with your spouse, your marriage certificate is a proof that you are married, and not a prank.
- If you are a business owner, you should include your financial statements, business license, and business permits.
- You should also include your ID picture. The size of the picture depends on the embassy that you want to get the visa from.
- A valid international passport.
- Bank statements to verify your claim that you can take care of yourself financially. You should include your bank statement for about 3-6 months to give them an idea of your real worth.
- Letter of employment to show that you have a job and will likely return to the country.
- If you will not be hosted by anybody, include the evidence of your accommodation booking. It is also a proof that you can accommodate yourself without becoming a nuisance when you get to your destination.
In addition to the general requirements for all types of visas, different visa types have a variety of requirements for prospective travelers. The various requirements are discussed later to give you a comprehensive requirement list you can always make reference to.
- Mind the details
When applying for a visa, do your best to mind the details, even the minutest of them. Some embassies give specific instructions about their basic requirements that need to be strictly obeyed, such as the type of envelope you should use when submitting your documents, the pen colour you should write with, or whether they want you to paste your photo to your application form instead of stapling it. These details are there for a reason: you pay 100% attention to the instructions, you shouldn’t deviate from it.
- Submit authentic documents only
There’s an obvious reason why you should submit your authentic documents only: no embassy will approve your application with a doctored or fake document. If you ever try to present a fake document, you run the risk of not only being denied your application approval; you may be banned from future application. That will spell the end of your ambition to go abroad.
- Present a good letter of introduction
You may have to prepare a letter of introduction to the consul for introducing yourself and stating why you want to travel (e.g to give birth). This will give them an overview of yourself and your mission at a glance. The letter should be well-written in flawless English and legible handwriting. As a better option, you can type the letter if the embassy accepts typewritten letters.
When writing the letter, pay attention to the details and ensure that the letter contains these vital pieces of information:
- The header should contain your name, your contact details, and the application reference number for the visa.
- Don’t forget to include the purpose of your travel.
- The duration of stay should also be included.
- If you have visited some other countries, mention them.
- The embassy will be interested in how you hope to fund your trip. State this without ambiguity.
- You should also not forget to include where you will be staying if you are allowed into the country.
In addition to including the above information in the letter, you may have to go through and interview for the purpose of confirming your claims.
- Organize your documents
It is not sufficient to pack all your documents in a file or folder haphazardly. That will not speak well of you. Make sure that all your documents are well organized for easy retrieval whenever you need it. Arrange your original documents and photocopies very well in a good order so that you can have easy access to them, thereby reducing your anxiety when you are asked to present them.
- Fill your visa application yourself
This is where many people get it wrong. Many people are scared of filling their visa forms personally because they believe that filling them is challenging. That’s wrong. A Visa form is just a formality for the High Commission or the Embassy of the country you want to go to know you better. You can visit the official website of the Embassy and fill out the form carefully. All the guidelines for filling the form accurately are provided to make it very easy to fill without the assistance of any agent.
When filling your form, don’t forget to use the same name you use for your international passport. Any disparity may lead to cancellation of your request, unless you find a way to convince them of the authenticity of your documents. Don’t hesitate to use the “Additional Information” section of the form to clarify any discrepancies or provide additional information about yourself.
- Engaging the services of an agent doesn’t guarantee approval
There is the general belief that hiring a travel agency for the visa processing will guarantee its approval. That’s a fallacy. In most cases, those agents only assist visa applicants to fill their online forms correctly and nothing else. Unfortunately, they don’t come cheap. Why should you pay hundreds of thousands of Naira to an agency just to fill a form that you can fill online within an hour? Don’t ever be deceived by the promise of guaranteed application by an agent or agency, they are not in the capacity to approve visas and they can’t influence the approval process.
Apart from the agents/agencies, any promise of automatic visa application approval by an airline employee or an embassy employee is only a farce. The embassy has its procedures for approving visas and nobody is powerful enough to circumvent it. So, don’t be deceived. You can get your visa approved without bribing anyone with your hard-earned money. If you apply online and your application is approved, the agent fee is enough to buy your flight ticket.
- Apply early
To be on a safe side and increase your chances of getting your application approved without delay, it is advisable that you turn in your application as early as possible. In some cases, submitting it about 6-8 weeks prior to the departure date will be ideal because it gives you an edge over those who submit later. No matter the duration of the visa processing, you will give yourself peace of mind if you apply early.
After meeting the basic requirements listed above, you should take particular attention to these useful tips:
- For divorcees: As a divorcee, your passport may bear a different name from what you answer, it is advisable that you get an Affidavit to clarify the discrepancies and prove to the Embassy that you bear both names. Otherwise, you can’t get your visa application approved.
- For parents: If per adventure your surname is different from that of your children or spouse and you want to make the trip together, include some items such as family photos, affidavit, and birth certificate to prove your relationship with them.
- Out of job or broke: If you are currently without a job or broke, you run the risk of getting your application turned down. Remember that one of the documents you will present to the embassy is your statement of account. If your account is in the red as reflected on the statement of account, it may spell disaster. However, you can still convince the embassy to grant your application if you can provide a C of O of your property or some other valuable assets such as share certificates that prove you have enough resources and other sources of income to sponsor yourself. The objective is to convince them that you are likely returning to Nigeria before the expiration of your visa.
- Old passport: Don’t forget to include any old passport you have in your application. If you’ve got more visas in the past, that will increase your chances of getting your application granted. The only exception is if your prior visas are to terrorist countries like Syria, Yemen, and others locations.
- Sponsored trip: If you are sponsored by someone else, include these documents:
- Letter of Sponsorship (You can search through the web for a template).
- Passport Date Page of your sponsor.
- Bank statement of your sponsor or his evidence of sponsorship.
- Staying with a friend: If you are going on a visit and will stay with a relation or a friend, it is still very important that you book your accommodation. As I pointed out earlier, you have to convince the Embassy that you are financially capable of taking care of yourself.
ONLINE VISA APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES
The reason why most people hire agents is because of their zero knowledge of how to go about the application process. Instead of paying huge amount of money for someone to do this for you, you should follow this guide to personally fill your online visa application if you are a Nigerian.
I have made it clear that you can personally fill the form online. Follow these steps to ensure a hitch-free visa application:
- Visit the official page of the Nigeria Immigration Portal.
- Search for the appropriate visa application form and fill it.
- When you are through with filling the visa, click the “I ACCEPT FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS FORM.”
- Then, click on “Submit Application.” You can view your details page after the submission.
- Then proceed to make your payment by clicking on “Proceed to Online Payment”
- Select your payment currency by clicking on “Pay in Dollars.” After paying the stipulated fee on the page, the embassy will charge you an additional $30 as processing fee.
- You will be required to provide the details of the money order you use. The application fee is non-refundable once you submit your application.
- Then continue.
- When you are through with that, take your passport, payment receipts, and any other important document to the Nigerian Embassy on your visa interview date.
- Fill out the online form and print it out after submission.
- Go to the payment section and select the payment option of your choice and send the stipulated fee.
If you want to apply for a visa or make payments, visit the official website of the Nigeria Immigration at https://portal.immigration.gov.ng
Requirements for all visa types
There are different visa types. Each of these types has its specific requirements for visa application. The requirements for these different visa types are outlined here.
For a tourist visa, you need the following documents:
- Your current passport. It must have 6 months validity or more.
- A completed visa application form.
- 2 passport-size photographs.
- Confirmation of your payment.
- Letter of invitation from your host.
- Date page of the passport of your host.
- If you are not staying with your host, you must present the confirmation of your hotel reservation.
- If you have a non-US passport, you will be required to provide a proof of your legal residency, i.e. the photocopy of your green card.
If you apply for a business visa, present these documents:
- A valid passport.
- The visa application form completed online.
- 2 pieces of your passport-size photograph.
- If you have made your payment, include the confirmation of your payment.
- A letter of invitation from a resident host should be included too.
- A proof of a legible host, mostly your host’s passport’s host page should be included.
- You must present an evidence of hotel accommodation reservation or the home address of your host if you are staying with a host.
- If you are a resident of the US with a non-US passport, the photocopy of your green card will be required as an evidence of your residency.
Temporary work permit visa
For a temporary work permit visa, these are the needed documents:
- Your current passport which still has a minimum of 6 months validity.
- An application form that you’ve completed.
- A proof of your online payment.
- 2 passport-size pictures.
- A copy of the approval cable by the Comptroller General of Immigration. The list should contain your name.
- Your host organization in Nigeria must provide a letter of introduction.
- The US company sending you must present a cover letter too.
- If you hold a non-US passport, the photocopy of your green card will be needed as a proof that you are a legal resident in the country you want to go.
- A copy of the certificate of incorporation of the company hosting you.
- As an expert, a copy of the exact job to be done should be included in the formal application from your host company here in Nigeria.
- The host company will have a certificate of incorporation, include it too.
Subject to Regularization (STR) visa
The processing fee for this type of visa is $223 for each applicant. The money should be paid as a money order that is payable to the Washington DC Embassy of Nigeria.
If you want to expedite the processing, your processing fee will be $288. After making the payment, you need these documents:
- A current passport that still has about 6 months before expiring.
- 4 completed application forms.
- Your online payment confirmation must be included too. 4 copies of the payment confirmation are needed.
- 4 passport-size photograph.
- 4 copies of your employment offer letters.
- If you accept the employment offer, send 4 copies of the acceptance letter.
- If you are approved by Nigerian Immigration, send 4 copies of the approval quota.
- 4 copies each of your certificates, degrees, and resumes should be included too.
- If you hold a non-US passport, include a photocopy of your green card to show you are living in the country legally.
- You should arrange all the documents mentioned above into 4 sets with each set including the documents.
- The Nigerian company should have a certificate of incorporation; include 4 copies of the certificate.
- A copy of your monthly quota utilization as approved by the Nigerian Immigration Service.
- 4 copies of a formal letter that is used to request for STR visa from any company in Nigeria.
- You also need to include 4 copies of the business permit that the Ministry of Interior issued, especially if the company has foreign shareholders.
- 4 copies of your company’s memorandum and article association.
- CAC FORMS 2 and 7 should be included too. 4 copies of the form are needed. The form contains corporate affairs information about directors and their shear holdings.
Documents for persons under 18
- A valid ID or photocopies of the passports of the bio-data page of their parents’ passports should be included in their application.
- A copy of your birth certificate.
- A notarized letter of consent that is signed by the parents.
- You will issue a money order of $30 as the cost of processing to the Embassy of Nigeria.
If you are at loss along the line, you can ask for the assistant of your parents to get things done well without delay.
If you want to mail your application for visa, accompany it by a self-addressed UPS, PREPAID USPS EXPRESS MAIL, FEDES, or any reputable courier. The return envelope you use must come with a tracking number. If you violate this rule the embassy will not process your application.
If you are applying for a US visa, mail your application to:
Attention: Consular Section
Embassy of Nigeria
3519 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
If you are applying for a visa to the United Kingdom, mail your application to:
Nigeria High Commission
9, Northumberland Avenue
London WC2n 5BX
You stand a good chance of getting your visa application approved if you strictly follow the instructions in this book. Not only will you have a smooth ride, you will also be spared of spending money on agents who cannot guarantee the approval of your visa. You can use the money for a better course.
If you are stuck during the application process, refer to this book again and see whether you have omitted something valuable. If you don’t deviate from the tips here, your success is assured. In no long time, you will get your visa and be on your way to the next phase of your life.
I wish you the best of luck as you put these tips to use. See you on the other side of the globe.