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Why U.S. removed visa reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens

The United States (U.S.) government has removed all visa reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens seeking visa to the United States.

In announcing the removal in a statement via its website on Saturday, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja said: “Effective December 2, 2020, the reciprocity schedule for Nigeria changed to remove all reciprocity fees for the non-immigrant visa categories listed below.  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. 

“The removal of these reciprocity fees matches the Nigerian government’s removal of additional fees on U.S. citizens applying for Nigerian visas.” 

The reciprocity fees row was sparked off early 2018 when Nigeria reviewed its visa fees upwards, with U.S. citizens paying as much as $270 for a single-entry visa. This includes the charge of $160 for Consular services, another $100 for ‘administration’ and $10 for ‘processing.’

In retaliation, effective 29 August, 2019, the U.S. upped its own fees, insisting that Nigerians applying for a student, tourist, or business visa from any part of the world paid N59, 200 fees, also pay an extra $110 after the Visa has been granted to them.

The U.S. explained that the increase in visa fees for Nigerians became imperative as “the total cost for a U.S. citizen to obtain a visa to Nigeria is currently higher than the total cost for a Nigerian to obtain a comparable visa to the United States.  The new reciprocity fee for Nigerian citizens is meant to eliminate that cost difference.

“Since early 2018, the U.S. government has engaged the Nigerian government to request that the Nigerian government change the fees charged to U.S. citizens for certain visa categories. 

“After eighteen months of review and consultations, the government of Nigeria has not changed its fee structure for U.S. citizen visa applicants, requiring the U.S. Department of State to enact new reciprocity fees in accordance with our visa laws.

“The reciprocity fee will be charged in addition to the non-immigrant visa application fee, also known as the MRV fee, which all applicants pay at the time of application,” the US Embassy said on Tuesday.

“Nigerian citizens whose applications for a non-immigrant visa are denied will not be charged the new reciprocity fee. Both reciprocity and MRV fees are non-refundable, and their amounts vary based on visa classification,” it added.

Following an outcry by Nigerians on the high cost of the fees and rationale for the increase by Nigeria, the federal government reduced the cost of visa application for US citizens.

Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbosola directed that the visa fees be decreased to $150 with effect from Thursday, 29th August 2019.

“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 to USD 150 with effect from Thursday, 29th August, 2019,” Aregbesola’s Spokesperson, Mohammed Manga, said in a statement.

Today’s announcement by the U.S. Embassy Abuja puts paid to the row.

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