Visas and Work Permits 8 min

Work permits and visas in Nigeria: an employer’s guide

Written by Sally Flaxman
January 22, 2024
Sally Flaxman

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The African nation of Nigeria has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. While hiring in Nigeria, though, companies must still pay close attention to the legal requirements in place. Compliance with all Nigerian immigration, taxation, and labor laws is essential when onboarding a workforce based in Nigeria. 

Full compliance with Nigerian laws can be tricky for HR and legal managers, given the overlapping concerns when it comes to working visas, taxation, and so on. Things become especially complicated if your company does not have an owned entity within Nigeria itself. 

Fortunately, you can work with a reliable employer of record like Remote that can help you understand the legal requirements for hiring employees abroad. This will help you avoid costly penalties, fines, and other legal issues that can arise from a compliance failure. 

This guide will help you stay compliant with Nigerian law when

  • You are hiring a candidate in Nigeria without an owned entity in Nigeria

  • You are hiring a non-citizen of Nigeria who is currently residing in Nigeria

  • You are relocating an existing employee to Nigeria

  • You are hiring a digital nomad who is temporarily residing in Nigeria

The importance of immigration compliance in Nigeria

If you are looking to hire remote employees based in Nigeria, the process is not quite as simple as recruiting them and onboarding them with your company’s HR team. 

In some cases, a remote employee will enter a country like Nigeria on a tourist visa and take on remote jobs from there. The problem with this is that it is often illegal to work in a particular country under a tourist visa. 

With the rise of remote working and digital nomadism, countries are beginning to crack down on tourist visa violations. Therefore, if your company is seeking to hire residents of Nigeria for remote work, or relocate your current employees to Nigeria, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you are in full compliance with Nigerian immigration law. 

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Which workers need a right-to-work check in Nigeria?

Nigerian citizens living in Nigeria do not need any kind of right-to-work check to take on employment. This is more or less the standard in countries around the world (except the UK, where new employees do need a right-to-work check when beginning a new position). 

When it comes to non-citizens living in Nigeria, Nigerian law requires that the resident is living in Nigeria under a valid visa. There are three main types of visas in Nigeria for non-citizens, each of which may grant the holder authorization to work. These are:

  • Basic entry visas

  • Temporary work permits

  • Subject-to-regularisation visas

Each of these visas has its specific requirements and guidelines for applicants. Each also has a timeframe of validity, which can cause something of a headache if you are managing multiple remote employees based in Nigeria on multiple types of visas. 

Do non-citizens need a work visa or work permit in Nigeria?

Under Nigerian law, non-citizens do need at least one of the valid residency visas afforded to non-citizens to legally work in Nigeria. The exact visa that they require depends on the amount of time that they intend to spend in Nigeria and the nature of the work that they are doing. 

If an employee is only planning on spending a short time in Nigeria, they can apply for a temporary work permit. However, if they intend to stay for a more extended period, they may need to apply for a subject-to-regularization visa. This visa can be used to apply for a Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC), which is necessary for non-citizens to live and work in Nigeria for the long term. 

What are the eligibility requirements for a work visa in Nigeria?

To apply for a temporary work permit in Nigeria, an applicant will first need to have an existing job offer. The applicant and employer will apply for a temporary work permit to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Services

Upon approval, the applicant will receive a confirmation letter from the Comptroller General, which must be submitted with the permit application. In addition to a job offer and authorization from Nigerian immigration services, the applicant must also have a passport with at least six months validity, and the ability to demonstrate qualifications for the position for which they were hired. 

Subject-to-regularisation visa applications also require a valid job offer. Applicants must have their credentials for their jobs formally approved by an official from the Nigerian High Court or a Nigerian embassy. 

Applicants looking to stay for longer periods must produce a letter of invitation from a host company or sponsor, as well as evidence of sufficient funds during their stay. 

What are the long-stay visa types in Nigeria?

When it comes to remote workers, Nigeria has four types of long-stay visas that are relevant. 

Business visa

Business visas are meant for business professionals who are traveling to Nigeria for long-term business purposes. Business visas can be the best option if your company is relocating employees to Nigeria, though the applicant will still need to demonstrate sufficient funds throughout the visa period. 

Temporary work permit

Temporary work permits in Nigeria are generally given to employees who are hired in Nigeria for shorter assignments. Workers on temporary work permits can take on work in Nigeria as non-citizens, though this type of visa was not designed to be a long-term residency option. In addition to a letter of invitation from the sponsoring company, a temporary work permit applicant must provide a return plane ticket out of Nigeria to qualify. 

Subject-to-regularisation visa

The subject-to-regularisation visa is the visa option most commonly used by non-citizens working in Nigeria for longer periods. The subject-to-regularisation visa requires a preexisting employment agreement with a company before authorization. The hiring company must agree to sponsor the applicant, as well as any dependents that the applicant has. 

Once the Nigerian resident obtains a subject-to-regularisation visa, they can apply for a CERPAC, which allows them to legally work in Nigeria long-term. 

How do you get a work visa for Nigeria?

To apply for a Nigerian temporary work permit, an applicant must submit:

  • A completed application form

  • Passport with at least six months validity

  • Two passport-sized photos

  • Letter of approval from the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Services. 

Subject-to-regularisation visas require:

  • Four copies of a completed application form

  • Passport with at least six months validity

  • Four passport photos

  • Four copies of the Letter of Quota Approval from the Nigerian Ministry of Interior

  • Four copies of employment credentials

  • Four letters of employment confirmation

  • Four copies of a letter of employment acceptance

  • Receipt of the paid application fees. 

What is the process for employee work visa sponsorship In Nigeria?

Employers hiring residents of Nigeria must submit an official letter of employment confirmation and/or an official letter of sponsorship of the resident, depending upon the specific visa being applied for. In general, a Nigerian embassy can process a visa application within 15 days, though this timeline can change due to several factors. 

After approval, the employee is onboarded to Remote through Remote's employer of record (EOR) service

What are the visa requirements for digital nomads in Nigeria?

Nigeria does not have a specific visa just for digital nomads. In general, the best visa for a digital nomad work will depend upon how long he or she is going to stay in Nigeria, and the position being held. 

If a digital nomad is working remotely for a non-Nigerian company while staying in Nigeria for a shorter period, he or she would probably need a basic tourist/visitor visa. However, if your company has an owned entity in Nigeria, you may need to sponsor the worker for a Nigeria work permit or subject-to-regularisation visa. 

How Remote makes compliance in Nigeria so much easier

Despite their numerous benefits, relocation and remote work will always be stressful processes for both employee and employer. Things like visas, immigration paperwork, and tax issues can quickly spiral out of control if your company doesn’t have the resources in place to handle everything. 

Every situation is ultimately different, and with employees spread out across multiple countries, employers will often have to deal with immigration laws and tons of paperwork. Remote has the resources to help with your visas, immigration paperwork, payroll, benefits, and other elements of compliance with international law. 

The good news is that Remote’s Relocation Guide can cut through all of these points of confusion and help you onboard remote workers, with ease. For questions on relocating your employees internationally, contact our friendly team of Mobility experts.

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