Prerequisites for claiming a resident permit in Nigeria
You need to be on the spot to apply for a Nigerian resident permit (called “Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card for Nigeria”), and you should have entered the national territory legally.
If you are a national of a member state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which encompasses Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea and Togo, you can enter the territory of Nigeria visa-free and stay there for a maximum period of 90 days.
Otherwise you must apply for a Subject to Regularisation visa before moving to Nigeria (see our Visas for Nigeria article).
Procedure to obtain a Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card for Nigeria
Long-term expats are required to apply for a Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC), which acts as both a work permit and a residence permit. Holding an employment offer or contract is necessary, and a CERPAC is always tied to a specific job. Dependants accompanying an expat taking on a job in Nigeria are also entitled to a CERPAC.
First, you should procure application forms from a bank recognised by the government, and submit your application within three months from the date of obtention of the forms.
After completing the forms, you should send your nearest Nigeria Immigration State Command Office a file comprised of:
A valid passport;
if applicable, your STR (Subject to Regularization) visa;
a confirmed employment offer/contract from an employer, along with your acceptance letter;
a letter from the employer requesting a regularisation of stay and accepting Immigration Responsibility over you;
your employer’s Quota Approval;
the form IMM22;
three passport–size photographs; and
vetted work credentials.
Fees for a CERPAC vary from $200 to $350 a year according to your nationality, your profile and purpose of stay. You can request a CERPAC with a validity of one or two years, renewable.
Foreign students accepted into a recognised higher education institution in Nigeria can also claim a CERPAC, providing certificates from their school and evidence of payment of tuition fees instead of the certificates of employment. The student CERPAC costs $200 a year.
Upon receipt, verification and endorsement of your application file, you will receive a Receipt/Temporary Card with an Immigration/CERPAC Stamp. You will also be called to come in person to the Nigeria Immigration State Command Office so that your biometric details can be captured. You will eventually receive your Nigerian CERPAC Green Card.
Your CERPAC Green Card does allow you to stay and work in Nigeria, but not to come and go as you please. Even as a resident, you still need a re-entry visa if you want to come back after holidays, leaves or temporary duty periods outside the country.
Special Immigrant Status in Nigeria
Foreigners married to Nigerian women enjoy a “Special Immigrant Status” in Nigeria under which they can claim a free-of-charge CERPAC, untied to the necessity of holding a job in the country.
In this case, you will only need to provide:
A valid passport;
the form IMM22 in triplicate;
three passport–size photographs;
a formal letter from your Nigerian wife, stating she accepts Immigration Responsibility;
a formal letter of request from you;
photocopies of the first five pages of your spouse’s passports; and
a photocopy of your marriage certificate.