US to begin issuance of five-year visa to Nigerians
Nigerian and American citizens will begin to enjoy elongated visa, as part of measures to further cement the existing cordial relationship between both countries, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Both countries currently have a bi-national agreement which is the highest strategic cooperation that can exist between two countries.
This agreement, which was signed under the current government is made up of four main components covering regional security and the Niger Delta, good governance, integrity and transparency, energy and investment, agricultural and food security.
Under the new arrangement, the duration of US visa issued to Nigerians will increase from two to five years.
Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Professor Ade Adefuye, who spoke in an interview in Washington DC, said that talks are ongoing between diplomatic officials of both countries to increase the life span of visas issued to the citizens of both countries.
'We have commenced discussions with them and both countries have agreed just in principle to increase the duration of visas on both sides from two to five years', he noted.
He added that the Nigerian diplomatic officials are following the decision of both parties to agree in principle by following up on the matter with a view to working out the details.
The ambassador also disclosed that in line with the foreign investment drive of the Federal Government, the nation's ambassador to Washington DC has liberalised the process of issuance of visas to remove all the encumbrances in the process of getting the nation's visa.
He noted that in the last four years, visa approvals into Nigeria has increased to between 90-95 percent, an indication that the embassy is working towards Federal Government's policy of attracting foreign investment into the country.
'For every visa application refused, the officer has to explain to us because we want foreign investments. But we don't want crooks and criminals in our country. So far, there has not been any report of US citizens we granted visas coming to indulge in criminal activities.
He also disclosed that the embassy has decentralised the issuance of visas in the United States to make it easy for all genuine investors coming to Nigeria to get visa.
'When I came here in 2010, Nigeria's visa were issued only in New York, but now visas are issued in New York, Washington and Atlanta, in fact one can obtain Nigerian visa at the airport', he said.
He added that if a country wants foreign investments, she has to liberalise her visa issuance process while taking cognizance of the security concerns of the country.
In addition to liberalising the visa processes, the embassy has also introduced an intervention programme whereby officers of the Customer Service Units of the embassy go to where Nigerians do business and offer them customer services for the issuance of visas and renewal of their passports.