Michael Olugbode in Abuja and Bayo Akinloye in Lagos
United States has removed all visa reciprocity fees for Nigerians seeking entry visas into the country. The Donald Trump government had in August announced visa reciprocity fees against some countries seen to be charging high visa fees on Americans, including Nigeria.
But against the outcry of many Nigerians, the federal government responded by reducing visa fees for Americans traveling to Nigeria from $180 to $150 in response to the US Embassy’s introduction of a “reciprocity fee” for Nigerians.
The US Embassy had earlier claimed that the reciprocity fee, ranging from $80 to $303 and only to be paid for approved visas, were introduced to “eliminate that cost difference” between visa application fees for both countries. The embassy explained then that the move was in line with a Trump executive order in 2017 for the US Secretary of State to, among other things, adjust fee schedules “to match the treatment of United States nationals” by other countries.
US Embassy claimed it had been in talks with Nigerian authorities for 18 months to align visa fees.
The Nigerian government, however, explained, after responded to the reciprocity decision by the US Embassy, that the decision to lower visa fees for American applicants was taken months before, but was not implemented because of the transition in government.
The US Embassy did not immediately reverse its decision.
But a statement on Saturday by the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the reciprocity fees had been removed. The statement signed by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdinand Nwonye, said the United States government had removed all visa reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens seeking entry visas into that country.
The statement said, “The positive development is in line with the removal of excess visa application, processing and biometric fees for United States citizens applying for Nigerian visas by the Nigerian government.
“The United States government has, therefore, eliminated reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens with effect from December 3, 2020. Prospective Nigerian travellers to the United States are hereby advised to visit: www.travel.state.gov for details.
“There are no reciprocity fees remaining on any visa class for Nigerian nationals. All non-immigrant visa applicants are still required to pay the $160 non-refundable MRV fee at the time of application. Reciprocity fees paid prior to December 3, 2020 are not refundable.”