Moremi Soyinka-Onijala reports that challenges and prospects about global mobility especially within Africa, which is as old as human creation, resonated at the breakfast meeting organized by the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce, N-SACC.
The event which held at Eko Hotel, Lagos with a theme: “Corporate Immigration Solutions & Strategies for International Mobility in a Digital Age-A Focus on Nigeria, ” reflected, among other things, on the non-functioning of ECOWAS protocol .
Observations were raised on the basis of the non-implementation of the ECOWAS protocol which out to have guaranteed ease of movements for commerce and industry.
Speaking at the event, Moremi Soyinka-Onijala, a lawyer who recently served as a director, citizenship and business department, Federal Ministry of Interior, noted that movement has been part of human history.
She clarified that only about 5 countries, out of the 16 west Africa countries, have ratified the ECOWAS protocol.
The Nigeria Visa Policy (NVP) which was approved in 2020 expanded the number of categories of visas from 6 to 79 but it is only partially implemented, its provisions are not available online, and lacks guidelines to bring most of its provisions to life. For example:
Creation of new visa classes that are highly customized and not tied to EQ platform such as students visa.
The Investors Visa and Visa for Special Skills remain on paper only and have not been implemented
Introduction of the Multiple entry TWP visa.
However, on the 23rd of May 2023, at one of the last sessions of the Federal Executive Council, the Honourable Minister of Interior presented a memo for the establishment of new pathways to Permanent Residency which was approved.
Specifically, Council gave the Minister authority to approve and issue guidelines for the establishment of four categories of permanent residency which gave full implementation to the following by converting visas to Permanent Residency:
Visas for Foreigners with rare skills and special talents;
Visas for Male Spouses of Nigerian Women; What and
Priviledge of Africans in the Diaspora to Return to Nigeria.
f.The former Minister of Interior also issued guidelines before the end of Administration to guide relevant officers of the Ministry and the NIS in the implementation of these four pathways to Permanent Residency. The next steps now are in the hands of the Ministry of Interior to complete its internal processes and publicize its regulations and rules to enable the public take advantage of these new approvals.
Laws and Rules in most jurisdictions guiding applicants are transparent, easy to follow, with strict timelines that are respected
Effective Processing timelines for various regulatory facilities (e.g., TWP, Green card, CERPAC card, EQ approval, e.tc)
Digital Nomad visa to promote remote working in a foreign country
Timely and seamless international passport processing model
Structured and simplified naturalization process for foreigners with pathways from Visa regimes to Permanent Residency and to Citizenship
Government officers charged with the duties of processing Immigration applications are well trained, equipped with ‘state of the art’ facilities and adequate work tools
Visa on arrival for frequent business travelers
Extensive and cumbersome processing framework for EQ and Business Permit facilities;
Combination of online and manual processing
Interface between representatives and officers responsible for processing applications need to be reduced to the barest minimum
Increasing statutory cost of EQ-related facilities and multiple payments (processing, inspection, and approval fees)
Delay in issuance of EQ which impacts Green card issuance and causes travel inconveniences due to unavailability of Green cards.
Some areas of the 2022 revised Handbook on EQ Administration still need to be clarified and simplified
Applicants for citizenship by naturalisation face a long wait which is discouraging to potential investors
Mrs. Moremi- Soyinka Onijala explained that it is painful seeing brothers and sisters going through harrowing experience in search of golden fleece in foreign land.
She pointed out that many Africans have lost their lives in the sea while trying to cross to some European countries.
Conscious of this unending loss, she explained that former Minister of Interior, Engineer Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, under whom she served as a director, introduced lots of models for ease of travel for Nigerians as well as obtaining work and resident permits for expatriates.
However, she stressed that the volume of works which are constitutionally compulsory for the Minister to sign and approve is much and has caused unimaginable delay in the speedy execution of policy framework. She therefore called on the authority to revisit ministerial approval.
“Aregbesola is a meticulous technocrat. He recognizes skills and a staunch adherent to due process. But to improve mobility, there is need to lobby the authority to reduce ministerial approval because the workload is much, ” she requested.
As a remedy, Taiwo Adeshina, Partner in the law firm- Jackson, Etti & Edu noted that knowledge and education about immigration are very key to both government and immigrants.
He explained that his law firm specializes in offering quality immigration advisory services to individuals and corporate institutions.
Fragomen Director, Caroline Kanzara-Obinwa, Senior Private Client Consultant, Ziphozihle Ntlanganiso and Senior professionals from Jackson, Etti & Edu participated in a roundtable discussion on immigration trends impacting Nigerian businesses operating across Africa, which was be hosted by the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce in Lagos, Nigeria.
During the session, Fragomen and Jackson, Etti & Edu took participants through strategies of ensuring compliance in a fast evolving immigration landscape in a panel discussion. The session provided significant insights from a government compliance perspective on Nigerian and South Africa immigration – ensuring that you walk away with a holistic view of current immigration trends.
The digital age has presented a lot of opportunities, not just for expats but also individuals and their families looking for alternative residency and/or citizenship across the globe. The team of experts looked at alternative immigration solutions for Private Clients in the digital age. This included an overview of Digital Nomad programs, Citizenship by Investment, Residency by Investment and more.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Osayaba Giwa-Osagie, SAN, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce emphasized that Africa Continent can offer a lot to the world. He noted that immigration is an integral part globalization and the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce is in the forefront in driving the realization.