Reciprocity: Absence Of Interior Minister Stalled Visa Fee Reversal, As FG Bows To Pressure

Following the reciprocity of higher visa fee regime announced by the America Government through her Embassy in Nigeria, the Federal Government has approved a reduction in visa charges payable by United States citizens from $180 to $150. The delay in implementing the reduction was caused by absence of a substantive Minister of Interior.

Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, explained on Wednesday, that the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, had been directed to implement the lower visa charges with effect from Thursday. The same day the American rates are supposed to take effect.

The development was sequel to the new visa regime announced by the US Government on Tuesday, stating that Nigerians applying for US visas will be required to pay a visa issuance fee, or reciprocity fee, with effect from August 29.

The US Embassy in Abuja had said that the reciprocity fee will be charged in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee, also known as the Machine Readable Visa fee, which all applicants pay at the time of application.

It explained that the reciprocity fee was applicable to all approved applications for nonimmigrant visas in B, F, H1B, I, L, and R visa classifications, noting that Nigerian citizens whose applications for a nonimmigrant visa were denied would, however,not be charged the new reciprocity fee.

The Mission explained that both reciprocity and MRV fees are non-refundable, and their amounts vary based on visa classification.

But the ministry in a statement by its spokesman, Mohammed Manga, said a committee set up to conduct due diligence in line with the ministry’s extant policy on reciprocity of visa fees had earlier engaged with the US embassy on the issue, adding that the implementation of its recommendations was delayed due to “transition processes in the ministry at the policy level.

“The committee had concluded its assignment and submitted a report, but the issuance of authorisation for its recommendations was delayed due to transition processes in the ministry at the policy level.

“The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has approved the decrease of visa charges payable by US citizens in line with reciprocity policy as recommended by the committee.

“Accordingly, the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, has been directed to implement the decrease in Nigeria’s visa charges to US Citizens with effect from August 29, 2019,” the statement said.

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