SWITZERLAND, AUGUST 27 – The United States of America has announced that Nigerian nationals would be required to pay a visa issuance fee, or reciprocity fee, for all approved applications for nonimmigrant visas.
The U.S. Embassy, in a statement on Tuesday, said the fee would be charged in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee, which all applicants pay at the time of application.
The new visa policy, it said, would be effective worldwide on 29 August, 2019. The visa issuance fee ranges between $80 and $303 depending on the visa category. This means that Nigerians applying for tourism, student and business visas will not only pay the N59, 200 fee but will have to pay an extra $110 (N40, 700) after the visa has been issued to them bringing the total cost to N99, 900.
However, applicants who are denied visas would not need to pay the extra N40, 700.
The embassy said the decision was based on the US law, which requires that U.S. visa fees and validity periods be based on the treatment afforded to its citizens by foreign governments. Visa issuance fees are implemented under the principle of reciprocity, it said.
“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,” it said.
According to the statement, 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,” the embassy said. The new visa policy would affect all Nigerian citizens worldwide, regardless of where they are applying for a nonimmigrant visa to the United States.
The statement reads in part: “Effective worldwide on 29 August, Nigerian citizens will be required to pay a visa issuance fee, or reciprocity fee, for all approved applications for nonimmigrant visas in B, F, H1B, I, L, and R visa classifications.
“The reciprocity fee will be charged in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee, also known as the MRV fee, which all applicants pay at the time of application.
“Nigerian citizens whose applications for a nonimmigrant 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.
“U.S. law requires U.S. visa fees and validity periods to be based on the treatment afforded to U.S. citizens by foreign governments, insofar as possible. “Visa issuance fees are implemented under the principle of reciprocity: when a foreign government imposes additional visa fees on U.S. citizens, the United States will impose reciprocal fees on citizens of that country for similar types of visas.
“Nationals of a number of countries worldwide are currently required to pay this type of fee after their nonimmigrant visa application is approved.”
It added: “The reciprocity fee is required for each visa that is issued, which means both adults and minors whose visa applications are approved will be charged the reciprocity fee.
“The fee can only be paid at the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Consulate General. The reciprocity fee cannot be paid at banks or any other location.”
This is coming, barely three months after the American embassy in Nigeria suspended indefinitely, the remote application for visa, known as the ‘Dropbox’ process.
The ‘Drop Box’ aka Interview Waiver Program (IWP) was introduced many years ago in Nigeria to allow certain Nigerian U.S. visa applicants who are applying to renew their visas in the same class of a visa previously issued by a Consulate/Embassy in Lagos or Abuja to be considered for a waiver of the visa interview requirement.
According to the new guidelines, all applicants in Nigeria seeking a non-immigrant visa to the United States must apply online, and will be required to appear in-person at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja or U.S. Consulate General in Lagos to submit their application for review. Applicants must appear at the location they specified when applying for the visa renewal.