- US denies blocking visa interview appointments
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The federal government has reduced its visa fees for Americans travelling to Nigeria.
This is coming as the United States Embassy in Abuja has denied blocking appointment dates for visa interview of Nigerians seeking to travel to that country.
The announcement of visa fee reduction wednesday came a day after the United States announced increases in its visa fees for Nigerians as a way of retaliating Nigeria’s high fees.
The US State Department said the visa fees were increased after 18 months of consultation with the Nigerian government, to make its visa fees for Americans proportional, failed.
The department also said it was compelled by existing laws to increase fees for Nigerians after issuing them visas.
Nigerians whose American visa have been approved are now to pay extra fees ranging from $80 to $110 (28,800 to N39,600), depending on the type of visa being applied for, the State Department said on Tuesday.
However, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said wednesday that a downward review of the visa fees charged to Americans by Nigeria had been approved months ago, but could not be implemented due to the transition process.
Aregbesola said visa fees had been reduced accordingly for prospective Americans travellers to Nigeria, a move he said would take effect immediately.
In a statement issued by spokesman of the ministry of interior, Mohammed Manga, the federal government announced yesterday that the visa fee of Americans had been reduced.
“The attention of the Ministry of Interior has been drawn to the introduction of reciprocity of Visa Fees by the United States of America. The ministry acknowledges that there were engagements with the United States Embassy on the issue and in the aftermath, a committee was set up to conduct due diligence in line with the ministry’s extant policy on reciprocity of Visa fees,” the statement read.
“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, 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 (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, has been directed to implement the decrease in Nigeria’s visa charges to US Citizens with effect from Thursday, 29th August, 2019.”
Meanwhile, the United States Embassy in Abuja has denied blocking appointment dates for visa interview of Nigerians seeking to travel to that country.
The Public Affairs Department of the Embassy made this known in response to a question by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday.
The embassy said, “there has been no block on visa interviews. There are interview appointment opportunities available,” in a very short and tacit reply.
NAN reported that a visa interview is intended for a more in-depth communication between the applicant and the representative of a diplomatic office.
A citizen of a foreign country, who wishes to enter the US is expected to first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence.
Citizens of qualified countries may be also able to visit the US without a visa under the Visa Waiver Programme.
According to the reports, after payment, once an applicant attempts to make an interview appointment, the applicant is informed through the US Embassy’s consultant website CGI INC that there are no available dates for visa appointments.