The current laws guiding immigration processes in Nigeria are the Immigration Act 2015 and the Immigration Regulations 2017 that was issued by the Honorable Minister of Interior in 2017. The immigration laws together with Nigeria Immigration Guidelines provide for the procedure and requirements for obtaining the Nigerian Resident permit. Work permit in Nigeria is only issued within the Nigeria territory upon the arrival of an expatriate or foreigner in Nigeria.

Essentially, the major method for acquisition of a Nigeria Work Permit is by employment by a Nigerian Company. The company seeking to employ a foreign employee must have acquired the Expatriate Quota on behalf of such employee. Another method of obtaining a Nigeria work permit, otherwise known as CERPAC (Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card) is by a marriage to a Nigerian male citizen. Any woman who is married to a Nigerian man is entitled to a special CERPAC known as a Niger-Wife.

Upon the obtainment of Expatriate Quota, a foreigner seeking to come to Nigeria must obtain a Subject To Regularization(STR) Visa.


Subject to Regularization is issued primarily based on the availability of expatriate quota, especially in the case of private organizations. STRs are issued on request by sponsoring organizations and individual investors coming to Nigeria to reside. It is required by foreigners coming to take up employment in Nigeria. It usually allows for one single entry to foreign nationals who have the intention to obtain a long-term work permit upon arrival in Nigeria.

However, an STR Visa in itself is not a work permit. It is usually granted for 90 days within which an application must be made to regularize the recipient’s stay. Failure to do this will cause for reapplication of another STR visa.

Foreign nationals who generally are eligible to obtain the STR visa include:

  • Foreign students
  • Research fellows
  • Government officials and their dependents
  • Missionaries, Clerics and their dependants
  • The foreign national staff of Non-Governmental Organisations(NGOs) and their dependants
  • Foreign nationals employed by companies operating in Nigeria and their dependants.

The major documents required for the application of an STR visa include:

  • Passport with at least 6 months validity
  • Completed visa form in quadruplicate with four recent passport photographs
  • Copies of the letter of Expatriate Quota Approval from Ministry of Interior
  • Copies of credentials, certificates and curriculum vitae, all vetted by a relevant official of Nigerian High Commission/Embassy (English Certified translated copy where applicable)
  • Copies of offer Letter of Employment
  • Four copies of Letter of Acceptance of employment, signed by expatriate
  • Nigeria Immigration Service Visa Payment Receipt and Visa Acknowledge
  • Copy of university/ professional qualification


A Nigerian work permit is a document or card required allowing a foreign holder to reside in the country within a fixed or indefinite length of time. In Nigeria, the Comptroller General of Immigration is empowered to issue a Nigerian residence permit under the Federal Ministry of Interior’s supervision. The Nigerian resident/work permit is official known or called the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC).

The CERPAC grants a foreigner permission to live and work in Nigeria for up to two years, which is subject to the renewal and validity of the expatriate quota.

An application for the CERPAC Nigeria should be accompanied by the following documents:

  • International passport with STR visa endorsement
  • A duly completed CERPAC statutory form
  • An STR package containing STR documentation received from the Nigerian embassy/consulate
  • Company’s board of directors’ resolution confirming the appointment as director (where applicable)
  • Application letter from the employer requesting Regularization of stay and accepting Immigration       Responsibility (IR) on behalf of the expatriate.
  • Payment of prescribed fees

By virtue of Section 18(2) of the Immigration Act 2015, a foreign national granted a residence permit does not require an entry visa. The section provides thus “A resident or work permit granted to a foreign Immigrant shall be
treated for purposes of entry into Nigeria as a multiple entry permit”.

The Nigerian residence permit (CERPAC) is renewable every two years.


The ECOWAS Treaty of Lagos 1975 provides for the free movement of citizens of ECOWAS member states within other member states. Member states of the Economic Community of West African States include the following countries:

  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cape Verde
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Liberia
  • Mali
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Togo

The implication of this Treaty is that no citizen of any member state is required to obtain a visa from any other member state to cross such state’s border. However, for the purpose of residency, an ECOWAS Residence Card would be required by any ECOWAS nationals seeking to reside in Nigeria.

The following are the requirements for the grant of Expatriate Quota

  • Application letter requesting the issuance of an ECOWAS Residence Card.
  • ECOWAS Travel Certificate or International Passport valid for 6months
  • Photocopy of bio-data page of ECOWAS Travel Certificate or National Passport
  • Two copies of the applicant’s recent passport photograph
  • Evidence of online payment
  • Duly completed and signed application form

For citizens taking up employment, the following documents in addition to the above are required:

  • Letter of employment
  • Letter of acceptance of the offer of employment
  • Copies of professional/ educational certificates
  • Copy of CV
  • Evidence of registration with professional bodies (where application)


Foreign spouses of Nigerians are eligible to a resident permit. The Nigerian spouse visa is the type of permit classified as s Niger- wife. The application for a Nigerian spouse visa must be made to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Abuja or the Comptroller of Immigration Service at various state commands.

The Nigerian Immigration Service stipulates the following requirements for the processing of the spousal visa in Nigeria:

  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/letter of consent from Niger-wife stating willingness to stay with husband in Nigeria.
  4. Nigerian passport bio-data page of the spouse
  5. Copy of passport bio-data page of the spouse
  6. Marriage Certificate
  7. Completed CERPAC Form
  8. Two (2) recent Passport photographs

Apart from the processing fee that may be charged by any professional helping to process the application, the Niger-wife visa is Gratis i.e. government do not charge for its issuance. 

The Immigration Act, as well as Immigration Regulations, lay down the necessary requirements for the immigration processes for foreigners who wish to reside and work in Nigeria. Nigerian Immigration Service enforces Nigerian permits among other visas and is very strict about such enforcement. Consequently, an illegal immigrant or anyone who breach or break the Nigerian immigration laws may be liable for immediate removal from the country.

Written by Immigration Law Department at Resolution Law Firm, Nigeria