When it comes to applying for visas in Nigeria, there are certain key things to be aware of (especially for first-time travellers). As you already know (if you own a Nigerian Passport), visas to several countries can be hard to come by. Luckily, there are a few tips on what to do and what to avoid in order to increase your chances for a successful application. I’ll share them below;
Apply on time: Give yourself enough time between your travel dates and your visa application date. The average processing time in Nigeria is usually between 10-15 working days. Some embassies take lesser, some take more. Processing times may also vary depending on the number of applications received by the embassy.
Generally, it’s best to apply for your visa from three months to three weeks before you have to travel. If you’re applying for visas like the US American or Indian visas that need you to select an appointment date, you should start the process as early as you can.
Use the services of an agent when it makes sense: When the question comes, whether or not to use the services of a travel agent or consultant, you should ask yourself, ‘Do I really need one? What services are being provided for me?’ And if you do decide to use an agent, make sure to use one who is trusted and tried. Personally, I apply for most of my visas by myself but I’ve used the services of travel consultants where it made logical sense. For example, for my trip to Morocco, I decided to use the services of Globe Jaunters who got my visa to me in record time.
Applying for that visa myself meant I had to travel to Abuja to submit my documents and then travel back to retrieve it. When I factored in the costs for flights and accommodation plus my acute fear of flying, it made sense to use a consultant.
Have the right information and documents for your application: Be careful to input only correct data when filling out forms for your application. Once you’re done, be sure to print out everything you need before going to submit them at the embassy or processing center. Not doing so may prove very costly.
For example, photocopying a document close to the American embassy can cost more than N1,000 per page. Compared to N20 you pay when you do it elsewhere, this is just outrageous. Find out what documents you need beforehand and print/photocopy them before going to submit.
Build travel history: Some countries require that you have some travel history before applying to their embassies. The best way to avoid the chicken-or-the-egg scenario as a first-time traveller is to travel to countries where you can get a visa on arrival. I mean countries that put a visa sticker in your passport.
Countries in East Africa are best suited for this. There are also countries with a fairly easy application process. These should be your first options.
Dress smartly for interviews and show up early: If you’re invited for an interview, dress smartly. You may decide to wear a traditional outfit or pants – it should not matter. As long as you look smart and put together, you would be fine.
Now that we’ve handled the ‘Dos’, here are some things to completely avoid doing;
Pay in a lump sum of money into an inactive account: I have applied for visas (including the US visa) with less than N10,000 in my account. While the amount of money in your account when you apply is important, the history of transactions in and out of that account may carry more weight.
It’s never a good idea to pay in a large amount of money into a dormant account. That alone could serve as a basis for visa denial.
Patronize thugs outside the embassy: These guys aren’t trying to help you, no matter how harmless they seem. They would look for ways to extort money from you.
Case in Point: During an application for an Indian visa, I tried to get an appointment date that proved to be very elusive. I had tried for several days to get one online but I kept getting a negative response. Thugs outside the embassy were charging anything from N5,000 to N100,000! (This depended on people’s negotiation skills or how desperate or gullible they appeared to be). Eventually, I was able to get the date without paying anyone. However, a lot of people parted away with so much money trying to get something that should be free.
You should know that these guys aren’t going to do anything special for you. It’s best to ignore them and go through the right processes.
Lie or forge documents: You may know someone who knows someone who got away with doing this. Take these ‘success’ stories with a grain of salt. Save yourself the time and money by presenting only valid documents.
Apart from being denied a visa if you’re be found using fake documents, you risk being banned from reapplying to that country. This may, in turn, affect your other applications. It’s just not worth it.
In conclusion, applying for a visa with a Nigerian passport doesn’t always have to be an extreme sport. Keep these tips and tricks in mind and they should make the ‘visa-struggle’ life a bit easier!
I hope you find the information useful for your first or next visa application. If you have any tips I might have missed out, please feel free to share them below.