In this Issue:-
1. Legal Alert – May 2013 – Immigration and Citizenship
2. Disclaimer Notice.
3. Copyright Notice.
The Immigration Act, CAP I1, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 provides the legal and regulatory framework for the entry and departure of persons into or out of Nigeria; usually for economic and social reasons.
The Immigration Act provides that persons entering into Nigeria, or leaving Nigeria, are required to be examined by an Immigration Officer, who may, on the information provided, refuse admission to any non-Nigerian citizen in any proper case.
No person, other than a citizen of Nigeria, shall accept any employment (other than employment with the Federal Government of Nigeria or with any State Government in Nigeria), or to on his own account or in partnership with any other person, start any business in Nigeria without the written consent of the Minister of Interior. Failure to obtain such consent is an offence which on conviction attracts deportation of the individual concerned as a prohibited immigrant.
The spouse and dependants of a person issued with an entry and work permit are also entitled to the issuance of the appropriate entry permit other than for employment purposes.
The Immigration Act provides that any Commonwealth citizen or citizen of Eire (more commonly known as the Republic of Ireland), may enter into Nigeria for the purpose of residence on the production of a Residence Permit, with his other travel documents, signed by or on behalf of the Director of Immigration, subject to such conditions as may be endorsed on the permit.
Unless exempted under the Immigration Act, an applicant for Residence Permit must produce a Bond as security, in such amount as the Minister of Interior may prescribe, and supply such supporting information as the Director of Immigration may reasonably require, before a Residence Permit, with or without conditions, is issued.
The Minister of Interior is authorised to prescribe the conditions for entry into Nigeria and the fees payable in respect of such authorised entry, that is, Visa, Permit or any such travel document.
Whenever the requirements for the issuance and the conditions of a Residence Permit are breached, the Minister of Interior is at liberty to require the infringing individual to leave Nigeria and to forfeit the Bond provided in the contingent event of the breach of the residence permit condition(s).
Employment of Immigrants – Expatriate Quota
Any person in Nigeria, desirous of employing a person who is a national of another country, with such skills and competencies which are otherwise unavailable in Nigeria, or which are in short supply, shall, unless exemption is granted, apply to the Director of Immigration for permission for the immigrant to come to Nigeria to resume such employment. Such work permit, more commonly subsumed under the Expatriate Quota/CERPAC regime, may be granted on such terms and conditions as the Ministry of Interior may prescribe; and such work permit may be replaced, re-issued, revoked or its conditions varied in the public interest; that is, there are Nigerians with the skills and competencies for the position that the immigrant is applying for.
The average tenure of an expatriate quota position is ten (10) years while the initial renewable term is two to three years. This is in the light of the Nigerianisation policy which requires that at least two Nigerians must always serve as understudies to each expatriate permitted to work in Nigeria. However, expatriates issued with permanent until reviewed (“PUR”) permits may not be affected by this rule.
It is an offence for any expatriate employee to change his employment in Nigeria without notice to, and approval of the Director of Immigration. It is also an offence for an employer to terminate the employment of an expatriate employee liable to repatriation without first giving notice of such termination to the Nigerian Immigration Service.
Penalties for any breach of any of the provisions of the Immigration Act include fines, terms of imprisonment and deportation. Where a business owner, who is not a Nigerian citizen, is deported, his business in Nigeria may on his deportation be wound up on an application made by the Minister of Interior to a High Court in Nigeria; and a Receiver, or a Manager, or a Receiver/Manager is subsequently appointed by the High Court on such conditions as the Court thinks fit, to wind up such a business.
Any non-Nigerian intending to establish a profession, business or trade in Nigeria must apply for and obtain a Business Permit from the Ministry of Interior before establishing any such enterprise; and any changes in such a business, from its name to its address, etc, must be communicated in advance to the Ministry of Interior.
The possession of a Business Permit does not however authorise the holder of the Business Permit to enter into or remain in Nigeria unless suc