Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom are some of the countries with the most expensive visa fees, Daily Trust investigations have shown.
This is apart from long bureaucratic tapes and multiple scrutinies applicants face in the hands of consular and security agencies.
United States citizens pay as much as $270 for a single-entry visa, our findings have revealed. The US nationals are charged $160 for consular services, another $100 for administration, and $10 for processing.
According to data obtained from the website of the Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS), Nigeria charges nationals of Bangladesh $253 for visa application, Belize ($200), Chile ($200), India ($253), Indonesia ($245), Ireland ($170), Israel ($169), UAE ($150), South Africa ($58), United Kingdom ($144), China ($64), and Malaysia ($6).
The Public Relations Officer of the NIS, Sunday James, however, told Daily Trust that he was not aware that the country's visa was among the most expensive.
"I'm not aware that our visa is on the high side," he said when asked for explanations on why Nigeria's visa application fees are high.
114,958 visas issued in 2017
Though Nigeria can't be classified as a high-end tourist destination, data from the website of NIS indicates foreigners are trooping into the country. A total of 114,958 different classes of visas were issued in 2017 alone, the NIS said.
Nigerian missions in the United States of America, United Kingdom, and China recorded the highest number of visas issued.
For the Chinese, the high rate of their influx may be connected to the multiple numbers of capital projects they are executing across the country.
UK-London led with 15,304 followed by USA-Washington DC with 15,120 visas issued. China - Beijing had 14,314; South-Africa - Pretoria, 10,047; Johannesburg 5,346; Berlin - Germany 5,454; Paris-France 5,383; Stockholm- Sweden 3,711; The Hague - Netherlands 4,984; Berne- Switzerland 1,841.
Also following the ease of doing the business policy of the government, 22,620 visas on arrival were issued last year.
The NIS said it made a gross revenue of N35.7 billion from passport fees, residence permit extension of visitors pass, ECOWAS/AA address verification and non-refundable passport admin charges during the year.
It also said $27.3 million was realised from visa and passport fees at foreign missions.
Most expensive visas
Saudi Arabia is one of the countries with the most expensive visas in Nigeria. A visa costs about SR2, 000 (N200,000) for a single entry, while the multiple-entry visa fee is SR3,000 (N300,000) for six-month visa.
On the other hand, Malaysia has one of the lowest fees. The Asian destination of most Nigerian students, chargesN12,300 for business, student and tourist visas.
Visa fees for the United States, United Kingdom and European countries within the Schengen Area, range between N30,000 to N100,000 (using the exchange rate of $1/N362) as application fee.
Diplomatic missions collect fees mostly in local or foreign currency. Majority of them in Nigeria who charge in foreign currencies accept payment either in cash or into the mission's bank account in Nigeria according to the current exchange rate.
But foreign exchange instability forces some missions into adopting a unique exchange rate against the official N306/$1 and black market N362/$1. For instance, Consular Exchange Rate for U.S embassy is N400/$1 as of yesterday. The Egypt embassy accepts visa fee is US dollar, not local currency.
The visa fee is not refundable if the visa is refused, regardless of the reasons for the refusal. In most cases, visa issuance fees are based on reciprocity - what Nigeria charges citizens of other countries for a similar type of visa.
Further findings revealed that Nigerian applicants pay as much as N300,000 for a regular visa, which depending on the consulate, will take as long as three months to process.
The bureaucratic tape includes filling multiple pages of application forms, banks statements, the purpose of travelling, financial source for expenditures, introduction letter from employer, a copy of provisional return air ticket and hotel reservations.
Apart from that, many countries demand character certification from the Nigerian police, as well as anti-drug certification from National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), as well as various vaccination permits on diseases such as polio, hepatitis, yellow fever.
But not all applicants are subjected to these long chains of bureaucracy and security. Express visas, patronized mostly by the wealthy in the society, takes hours to get but only when applicants part away with over $1000 depending on the country. While visa applicants are kept in long queues under the sun, these VIP applicants are seated in cosy offices where they are served refreshment.
New Saudi Arabia visa regime
Introduction of biometric data capturing and involvement of VFS Global, an outsourcing visa processing centre, by the Saudi embassy in Nigeria for visa processing is generating controversy among tour operators.
About 95,000 Nigerians perform hajj and over 500,000 others perform lesser Hajj (umrah) annually. The biometric centres are located only in Abuja, Kano, and Lagos, Bauchi, Minna, Gusau and Yola.
The national president of AHUON, Alhaji Salihu Butu, said VFS Global may not cope with the size of visa applications for Saudi Arabia, especially for hajj and umrah activities.
Daily Trust learnt that a new arrangement between Saudi Arabia and VFS Global would see the organisation charging 25 percent of visa fees from applicants and would also receive another 25 percent from Saudi Arabia during remittance of fees collected.
Visa applicants intending to travel to the Schengen Area must pay a processing fee of €60 for short-stay visas (which can be no longer than 90 days) and €99 for long-stay visas (more than 90 days), according to the information on the websites of many Schengen Member States' missions in Nigeria.
Other requirements include travel health insurance policy covering any medical emergency with hospital care and travel back to one's native country due to medical reasons. This health insurance policy has to cover expenses up to 30,000 euros.
Nigerian applicants for South African visa pay N24,070 and N56,070 for short term and long term respectively. South Africa demands yellow fever vaccine card, in addition to the regular requirements.
Malaysia demands yellow fever certificate, NDLEA certificate for all first-time travelers; employer's valid income tax clearance, certificate of incorporation and certificate of registration/incorporation of the inviting organisation in Malaysia.
Student applicants after gaining entry into Malaysia, are required to obtain 'student pass' which covers their stay in the country throughout the study period, the mission's Charge d'Affairs, Yunus Ibrahim told Daily Trust.
Nigerian students are required to provide original and copy of admission letter from institute of higher learning in Malaysia; immigration approval letter; highest obtained educational qualification certificate; eligibility letter from the Ministry of Education of Nigeria, signed confirmation letter from the sponsor with his/her copy passport data page and bank statement for the last three months.
Applicants for all categories of Indian visa are to pay US$252 including a surcharge of US$2, according to the information on the website of the country's mission in Nigeria.
The Indian government, aside from application fee, also demands that "Oral polio vaccination/IPV only for residents of seven polio-affected countries including Nigeria is a mandatory requirement for visiting India."
The Embassy of China in Nigeria charges N31,250 for visa application fees for Nigerians intending to visit the country. The amount, according to the mission, includes service charge and VAT.
US visa applicants, including children, are required to pay a non-refundable, non-transferable visa application fee before applying for a non-immigrant visa, the embassy said on its website.
"In Nigeria, depending on your visa class, the majority of visa applicants will pay $160, $190 or $265 at GT Bank.
Egypt collects $75.00 for single visa and $120.00 for multiple entries from Nigerian applicants. The amount is for all types of visa.
The fee, according to the notice at the Egyptian embassy, Abuja - is collected in US dollars.
Egypt also requires visa applicant to submit a copy of company registration certificate in Nigeria (CAC), yellow card and medical fitness certificate from Nigerian Turkish Hospital, Asokoro Hospital or Garki Hospital.