The United States is a dreamland to many Africans, especially because of the violence, insecurity, and poor economy and infrastructural development of many African countries, including Nigeria.
As of 2017, the estimated African immigration to the U.S. was about 2.1 million Africans. However, not everyone in Nigeria and Africa at large seeks to travel to the U.S. for greener pastures – Some travel on the grounds of Marriage and other related factors.
To enter the U.S. as a Nigerian citizen, you will need to apply for a U.S. Visa in Nigeria. This is the same for citizens of other countries. However, citizens of some countries like Australia, the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, etc may enter the US and stay for 90 days or less without obtaining a Visa.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that obtaining a U.S. visa is not a guarantee for entering into the United States. The U.S. Visa only suggests that you are qualified to apply for entry into the United States for a definite purpose, as determined by the U.S. Consular officer.
Types of U.S. Visa
1. Nonimmigrant Visas
This type of Visas is obtained for a temporary stay in the United States. There are several types of Nonimmigrant Visas but the most common types are Business/Tourist Visa, Work Visa, Student Visa, Exchange Visitor Visa, Transit/Ship Crew Visa, Domestic Employee Visa, and Journalist and Media Visa. The Nonimmigrant Visa is usually used for a definite period of stay in the United States to achieve specific purposes.
The U.S. Nonimmigrant Visas are usually applied for in Nigeria at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja and the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos. When applying for a U.S. Nonimmigrant Visa, you must prove to the consular officer that you have a plan to leave the United States as soon as you have completed the purpose for which you are traveling to the U.S. because you share a strong bond with Nigeria.
2. Immigrant Visas
This type of Visas is obtained for permanent residence in the United States. If you plan to live permanently in the United States, you will have to apply for this type of Visas. This visa is what allows you to apply to be a legitimate permanent resident of the United States. It is also a prerequisite for obtaining United States Citizenship.
How to apply for Nonimmigrant Visas
To apply for a Nonimmigrant Visa, you can follow the following steps:
Step 1: Determine the type of U.S. Nonimmigrant Visa
As mentioned earlier, there are several types of Nonimmigrant Visa. Therefore, you need to go through the list of all Nonimmigrant Visas to determine the one that suits your situation. Other types of Nonimmigrant Visa include Athletes, amateur and professional (competing for prize money only), Diplomats and foreign government officials, and foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
Step 2: U.S. Nonimmigrant Visa application fee
After you must have determined the type of Nonimmigrant Visa that suits your situation, the next thing to do is pay for the Visa application. Note that the payment for the Visa application is nonrefundable and nontransferable. The fee is also called the MRV fee. You will need to pay the Visa application fee whether the Visa is issued to you or not. The Nonimmigrant Visa application fee varies based on the type.
The most common Nonimmigrant Visa application fees are $160, $190, and $265, and the payment is usually done at GTBank. You don’t have to worry about paying the fee in US Dollars because the payment is done in the Nigerian Naira(#).
When you pay for the Visa application fee at GTBank, you will be given a receipt, which is valid for a year from the time you made the payment. The receipt allows you to schedule an interview while it’s still valid at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate General. If you want to schedule an interview after that the receipt has expired, you will need to pay a new Nonimmigrant Visa application fee.
Generally, the application fee for the most common types of Nonimmigrant Visa like a tourist, business, student, and exchange visas is $160. The fees for most common petition-based Nonimmigrant Visas like work and religious visas are $190. Fiancé(e) or Spouse of U.S. Citizen visa application fee is $265 and Treaty Trader/Investor visa application fee is $205.
You may not need to pay for Visa Application fee if you are in categories such as Diplomats and foreign government officials, Employees of a designated international organization, NATO, traveling to provide certain charitable services, etc. Ensure that you are not careless with the Visa application receipt number as it’s important for booking an appointment.
Step 3: Complete DS-160 form
Once you have paid for Visa Application fee, you will then need to complete the DS-160 form. You have to complete the form before your appointment at the US Embassy or Consulate. The barcode number on the DS-160 Form confirmation page will be used to schedule your interview. The Form will be completed online by you and must be taken along for the Interview.
Ensure that while filling and signing the Form electronically, all the details you input are valid and precise.
Step 4: Create a Profile
After you have filled the DS-160 Form, you will need to create a profile in U.S. Visa Information Service for Nigeria web system. To create a new profile, click on “new user”, fill all fields and create a password, and you will be granted access to your dashboard. To begin the process of appointment scheduling, click on “Schedule Appointment” on the left-hand side of your dashboard. You will need the following to schedule an appointment:
- Your passport number.
- The receipt number from GT Bank receipt.
- The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page.
The process of scheduling an appointment involves choosing your visa type, Inputting your personal data, adding dependents, choosing your document delivery location, confirm your visa payment, and then schedule an appointment.
Step 5: Go to the U.S. Embassy
Since you have scheduled an appointment already, you can go to the U.S. Embassy on the scheduled interview time and date. On the “Schedule My Appointment” page, you will find the necessary documentation you need for the Interview.
Step 6: Receive Your Visa
After you have gone for the appointment and your Visa has been approved, your U.S. Nonimmigration Visa will be delivered to the location you chose during the appointment scheduling process.
How to apply for Immigrant Visas
The starting point of applying for a U.S. Immigration Visa is where an eligible family member of yours who is a citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States will submit a petition on your behalf to the U. S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States.
Additionally, if you are traveling to the U.S. for full-time employment, your employer may submit a petition on your behalf. Specific information about filing immigrant petitions is available on the USCIS website.
Once you have been contacted or directed by the Consulate to schedule appointments, you can go ahead to schedule an appointment. You can create a profile in the U.S. Visa Information Service for Nigeria web system and follow the instructions on scheduling appointments.
When you are issued an Immigrant Visa, you have to pay a $220 USCIS Immigration fee before you travel to the United States. Exemption from this fee is only for prospective adoptive parents whose child(ren) is/are entering the United States under either the Orphan or Hague Process, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants who were employed by the U.S. government, returning residents, and those issued K visas.
Approved U.S. Immigration Visas are usually sent to the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos and not the U.S. Embassy in Abuja. You have to create an account on www.ustraveldocs.com/ng to be able to pick up your visa. When you create an account, you must also create a profile. The information you provide is used to return your passport and documents to you after the appointment. You will be notified via your registered email address and phone number to come to pick your documents.