Patriotism may keep you within the boundaries of your nation, but necessity may require you to move out of it at any time. We all desire a safe, habitable Nigeria. But chances are, there are more pressing needs to fulfill outside the country. You may be pursuing higher education in a foreign university, perhaps in Europe, Asia, or the Americas (or even somewhere else in Africa). You could also be a skilled worker who wishes to work with a foreign institution or company for a better pay. These two cases are by far the most common.
But of course nothing stops you from visiting any country around the world as a tourist, if you can afford it. So what is required of you if you wish to travel abroad from Nigeria? The concept of ‘abroad’ here includes every other country outside Nigeria. However, the majority of persons traveling outside Nigeria usually target countries outside the African continent. Because it is widely believed there are better living conditions and opportunities outside there.
Here in this article, we will guide you on the proper steps to take before venturing to travel beyond Nigeria. You may be well aware by now that the number of travel applicants who visit the various foreign embassies in Nigeria are ever-increasing. And few of them are granted travel visas. Moreover, you should know the prevailing conditions in your target country, so you can prepare well ahead of time. Endeavour to ask yourself the following basic questions:
- For what purpose am I traveling abroad?
- What is/are the right destination(s) to travel to (based on the purpose)?
- Do I have all the necessary travel documents and enough money?
- What type of travel visa should I apply for?
- Will I need help from a travel/visa agent in Nigeria?
Taking things one step at a time, we will discuss each of the points above.
Traveling Abroad from Nigeria: What’s your Reason/Purpose?
A clear definition of WHY YOU WANT TO TRAVEL OUTSIDE NIGERIA is a necessary first step to take. Is it to obtain work, for business, to attend school, for permanent residency, health treatment, or tourism? Would you need to bring family members along? Are you engaged or married to a citizen of that country? These are questions you will have to answer at the embassy of the target country (or at the travel agent’s office). So take your time to outline them beforehand.
Traveling Abroad from Nigeria: What is/are the Right Destination(s) to Travel to?
The purpose of your travel, or what you want to achieve, will determine the type of visa you will need. It will also help you to identify the best country (or countries) suitable to your purpose. For instance, if you wish to pursue quality higher education, you should be considering countries like Canada, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, or the USA. These countries are student-friendly and may allow student work permits. Some of them may even offer tuition-free courses, scholarships or otherwise low tuition fees. And there are good opportunities for employment after graduation.
Again, some countries do not require you having a visa at the entry point, or before leaving your country. Note that a VISA is the official document you must present at the point of entry into a country. This document allows you legal access into their grounds for a certain time. There are at least 26 of those countries with visa-free opportunities for Nigerians – so long as you have a valid international passport. There are also those who will have you apply for a visa upon entry into that country. See the list of visa-free countries for Nigerians HERE.
Countries like Singapore, the UAE/Saudi Arabia, Germany, New Zealand, France and Canada are on the lookout for skilled workers. And the companies there are ready to pay you well if you can prove your mettle. You should do your own independent research to identify the best destinations suitable to your purpose.
Having a spouse (or family member) in the target country can also fast-track the process of applying for a visa. This will also save you some of the costs you will incur when you arrive there, especially on housing and food. What of the climate? Be prepared to handle the weather conditions there.
Do I have all the necessary travel documents and enough money?
You will need to get original and valid travel documents ready, sometimes months before you venture to travel. These documents will be demanded from you after a successful visa interview at the foreign embassy:
- Your international/ECOWAS passport must be ready, with at least six months validity
- Your original birth certificate (or Sworn Declaration of Age/Affidavit)
- Passport-sized color photographs with white background
- An invitation/admission letter from your intended host (could be a business partner, family member, school, conference organizer or something of such)
- Evidence of visa fees payment
- Flight ticket/booking
- Accommodation/Hotel booking
- Utility bills
- Photocopy of the biodata page of your international passport
- Your marriage certificate (if married)
- Birth certificates of children (and/or family members) traveling with you
- Your six months account statement (and that of your sponsor)
- Letters from friends and sponsor as support/evidence
- Other supporting documents (e.g. Tax clearance certificate, medical report, school fees payment receipt, proof of employment, business registration documents, professional certificates etc)
In addition, you must have enough money with you. You can securely carry your money with you in the following forms:
- some cash as earlier mentioned (in the currency of the destination country)
- Traveler’s cheques
- Debit and credit cards (that can transact in the foreign currency)
- Money apps (that can provide the foreign currency)
- Multi-currency prepaid travel cards
Types of Travel Visa
There are up to 13 types of travel visas recognized internationally, based on the purpose for which you want to visit that country. These include:
- Medical visa
- Pilgrimage visa
- Tourist visa
- Student visa
- Transit visa
- Working holiday visa
- Work visa
- Investment visa
- Official visa
- Refuge/Asylum visa
- Family reunification visa
- Digital nomad visa
- Retirement visa
There are also special visas issued based on a ‘joint visa scheme’. A joint visa is the type issued by a country that belongs to a regional organization, where all member countries use that common visa. Two famous examples are the Schengen visa and ECOWAS visa.
You may consult the VisaGuide website for a clear description of each type of visa stated above.
Do I need a visa/travel agent?
There are reliable travel and/or visa agencies in Nigeria that can help you get a quick visa approval, and the right travel visa as well. But you need to investigate and make careful findings before committing yourself to that one responsible travel agent. Some of them are dubious. However, you need to read through the correct procedure for applying for the visa of your target country on its immigration website. Thus you will have little problem applying for one if you follow the rules.
How to Apply for International Passport
Your international passport is your identity – this is the official document that identifies you as a Nigerian anywhere across the globe. Ideally every citizen who is legally an adult should apply for, and have an international passport. You can easily apply for one on the Nigeria Immigration Service application website. Check the full guidelines for applying for a Nigerian e-passport HERE.
Once you have filled the online form as instructed, the essential documents below must be made ready. You will thereafter present them at an interview deemed to come up later. For a standard passport, you need:
- Your original birth certificate/Sworn affidavit of age declaration.
- Two recent colour passport photographs
- Letter of identification from your Local Government.
- Parents’ letter of consent ‘(for minors under 16 years)
- Marriage certificate (if you have one)
- Guarantor’s form sworn to before a commissioner of Oaths/Magistrate/High Court Judge
- Police report (to reissue a lost passport)
- Application must be submitted with all accompanying documents to the passport office. Otherwise, submit them to the Nigerian Embassy or High Commission (if you are outside Nigeria).
If you are applying for an official passport, the additional documents below must be added:
- Letter of Introduction from the appropriate State Government, Federal Government, Ministry or organization.
- Letter of appointment or last promotion.
For clarification, a standard e-passport is the typical one available to all Nigerian citizens; it has a green cover. On the other hand, an official e-passport is issued only to Nigerian diplomats and government officials; it has a blue cover.
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