The reciprocity agreement, which will become effective in 2017, governs the period of validity for different kinds of visas which permit Nigerian citizens to travel to the United States for different purposes.
The agreement, Per Second News learnt provides for the same provisions relating to U.S. citizens travelling to Nigeria in similar visa categories.
The change in the reciprocity agreement will permit the U.S State Department to issue longer-term visas for students, business visitors, tourists and exchange visitors. According to a U.S Consular officer in the know, the new reciprocity schedule does not apply to H-1B or L-1B visas.
The new visa extension is as a result of the success of a bi-national agreement which is the highest strategic cooperation that exist between the two countries, and kick started by the late former Nigeria’s ambassador to the U.S, Amb Adebowale Adefuye.
In the new schedule, Student and exchange visitor visas will be valid for the duration of the educational program that supports the visa application up to a maximum of five years. Visitor visas, for both tourists and business visitors, will be valid for 5- 10 years.
The Source also said that the impact of these changes is limited. It will not expand the number of individuals who can apply for visas, nor will have any impact on the eligibility of any individual for a visa. It does not extend the ability of Nigerians to stay longer in the United States.
However, it will permit some individuals to avoid the need to apply frequently for a visa.
According to US Immigration experts, travelers to the U.S must know the distinction between the issuance of the visa and the right to stay in the United States.”
“The visa is issued by the State Department and grants the right to enter the United States for a specific purpose and a specific time. The visa governs the period in which the holder of the visa can present himself for admission at the border, it does not govern how long he is permitted to stay. Thus, for individuals who wish to travel between the United States and Nigeria when it becomes effective, it will reduce the number of visits to the American Consulate in Lagos or Abuja to apply for a new visa in the three designated categories.
Meanwhile, both countries are currently discussing the modalities. Countries like Ivory Coast currently get 5-10 years U.S visas.