Special Immigrant Status(SIS) is the approval given to foreigners that are married to Nigerian Women for the purpose of residing in Nigeria. A Foreigner married to a Nigerian woman is entitled to a Special Immigrant Status in Nigeria whereby such a foreigner can be eligible for Combined Expatriate Residence Permit Aliens Card (CERPAC), Nigerian Residence Permit, absolutely free of charge.


The application for an SIS is made to the Federal Ministry of Interior. The requirements for filing an application for SIS are as follows:

  1. A formal letter of request from the Nigerian wife accepting Immigration Responsibility.
  2. Formal letter of request from the husband.
  3. Photocopies of the first five (5) pages of the wife’s Nigeria Standard passport.
  4. Photocopy of Marriage Certificate.
  5. Duly completed form IMM22 in triplicate copies with three (3) recent passport photographs.
  6. Applicant’s National Passport.
  7. Current Tax Clearance for the husband
  8. Husband’s current resident permit.

An Applicant for SIS must have obtained a Subject to Regularisation (STR) Visa to make him eligible to enter into the country before applying for the SIS. If the applicant is already a lawful resident in Nigeria through other means, he must provide proof of his residency.

Upon submission of the application, the application is forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs in the State of Residence of the Applicant for further investigation.

The Ministry of Home Affairs is charged with the responsibility of interviewing the Applicant, investigating and gathering pertinent information as to the true status and circumstances of the applicant. The Ministry of Home Affairs upon completion of its due diligence makes its recommendation to the Federal Ministry of Interior in respect of its findings. The Department of State Service (DSS) may also be enlisted to vet the Applicant at the Direction of the Federal Ministry of Interior.

It is noteworthy that where an applicant arrived in Nigeria with an intention to process an SIS and such an STR visa has expired before the approval of the SIS, the applicant may be permitted to continue to reside in the country after the expiration of the STR Visa subject to the directive or discretion of the Nigerian Immigration Service since the STR Visa may not be renewed within Nigeria.

Upon approval, the holder of a special immigrant status is entitled to apply for and obtain CERPAC which is gratis, i.e. free of charge. The application shall be submitted to the Office of the Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Service Headquarters Abuja or to the Office of the Comptroller of Immigration Service at the State Commands where the expatriate is resident through the Nigerian spouse. The requirements to obtain CERPAC upon the grant of an SIS are:

  1. Letter of Application for Residence Permit by the Nigerian spouse accepting Immigration Responsibility
  2. Copy of Special Immigrant Status approval letter by the Minister of Interior
  3. Husband’s consent letter requesting for Special Immigrant Status
  4. Nigerian passport bio-data page of the spouse
  5. Copy of passport bio-data page of the spouse
  6. Marriage Certificate
  7. CERPAC Form
  8. Two recent passport photographs

Finally, it takes an average of one year or more to obtain the SIS from the date of application to the Federal Ministry of Interior. The application for SIS must be accompanied with the prescribed fee. To qualify for SIS, the applicant must have been married to a Nigerian woman for up to 5 years.


By Immigration Law Team at Resolution Law Firm