Visa by proof, By Wole Olaoye


For this writer and many people of my generation, there is absolutely nothing existentially crucial about visiting America. In all my past visits, I have never exceeded two weeks because that is how long it takes me to start missing my beloved country. Nigeria may not be El Dorado, but I will dislocate the jaw that describes it as a shit hole.

There are very few examples of humiliation and frustration comparable to what the average Nigerian goes through in his quest for a US visa. You would think America is heaven or something close. One would think that the very life of the applicant depended on the granting or refusal of this visa. But if I can creatively alter the wise words of Fela in “Alagbon Close”, “Visa na visa, na country dey different”.

Today, on average, a Nigerian intending to go to the United States in the B1/B2 category may have to wait two years to be interviewed. The US Embassy visa application platform is relatively user-friendly. But try to book an interview date and you’ll end up with a two-year wait. Many who applied in the first quarter of 2022 were shocked to learn that they have to wait until 2024 to be interviewed.

In 2020, former President Donald Trump added Nigeria to the list of countries whose citizens were banned from emigrating to the United States. Last year, President Joe Biden overturned the ban on his first day in office. It was hoped that the shabby treatment usually given to Nigerians had disappeared with the Trump era. We celebrated too soon.

Before, I thought that diplomatic relations were based on the principle of reciprocity. In international relations, the principle affirms that the favors, advantages or sanctions granted by one State to the citizens or legal persons of another must be returned in kind.

However, this is not the case in the relationship between Nigeria and the United States. While Americans can get expedited processing of their visas at Nigerian consulates in the United States, depending on the type requested, that gesture is not replicated here. A quick check online shows that there are three categories of treatment available to US citizens intending to visit Nigeria, categorized as standard; Rush; and Super Rush. The fees are graduated according to his choice. The Standard option takes six business days or more; Rush is expected to take four days, while Super Rush is advertised as taking only two days to process.

I am not aware that an American has to wait two years to be interviewed to go to Nigeria. This is happening right before our eyes here in Africa’s largest country and it seems our government is either totally unaware or can’t be bothered with what is happening.

Even when Nigerians finally get a date for the interview, there are sometimes bizarre cases of visa denials based on the ignorance of consular staff interviewing. For example, the interviewer asked a candidate why he was going to accept another admission for a master’s degree in the United States when he already had a master’s degree in the United Kingdom. He replied that his UK degree was in computer science and what he planned to study in America was artificial intelligence. The consular officer said that for her, computer science and artificial intelligence were one and the same thing. Visa refused!

It is now established that a letter of admission to an American university and even the payment of fees does not guarantee any student a visa.

Announcement TEXEM

What about those who have urgent requests regarding family commitments or health issues or even important conferences? The US website gives assurances that “Individuals with a life or death emergency may request an expedited in-person interview…(but) business trips, conferences, weddings and graduations are not considered as emergencies.

An industry has therefore grown out of the collective misery experienced by visa applicants. Touts and some travel agents have taken the plunge to bridge the gap between submitting a visa application and securing an interview date. Fees charged range from N100,000 to N500,000 depending on the desperation of the applicant. The vantage is an activity conducted in the open air, in spaces adjacent to the US Embassy in Abuja and the Consulate in Lagos.

Victor Tamuno, a Lagos-based travel agent, speaking to Quartz Africa, explained that what is happening is a carryover of discrimination against Nigerians from the Trump era. He said he had several “overqualified” clients with varying purposes, from school to conferences and short vacations, who were denied visas.

“At some point, you won’t know who they will give a visa to. They just turned people away for little or no reason.

The US Embassy warns visa applicants not to associate with touts. In its “special note” it is stated: “Third parties not affiliated with the US Embassy in Abuja and the Consulate General in Lagos may seek to take advantage of various visa services to target visa applicants with offers. or fraudulent claims. »

When you put in place a system designed to frustrate people, they are bound to find a way around it. Your carefully orchestrated dumbing down will meet its match.

An industry has therefore grown out of the collective misery experienced by visa applicants. Touts and some travel agents have taken the plunge to bridge the gap between submitting a visa application and securing an interview date. Fees charged range from N100,000 to N500,000 depending on the desperation of the applicant. The vantage is an activity conducted in the open air, in spaces adjacent to the US Embassy in Abuja and the Consulate in Lagos.

The US Embassy is very aware of the game. Earlier this year, US Consular Coordinator Susan Tuller advised Nigerians against doing business with touts.

“Unfortunately,” said Tuller, “the visa facilitators and travel agents, and a few others, are manipulating our visa appointment system for their own financial gain. And even though in Lagos they operate in the parking lot right next to our consular operations, we really have little control over this as they do not operate on our property and we cannot control them ourselves.Unfortunately the visa facilitators here operate with impunity…And so many that Nigerians will continue to pay them very high fees to get an appointment, this is likely to continue and it makes it very difficult for us to really control the number of visa appointments we make available.”

Tuller advises Nigerians to go through the straight and narrow path that leads to the Elysee Palace called USA.

I wonder how many Americans have to hire touts to help them get interview dates for Nigerian visas! Why is one animal more equal than another?

While hoping that the Nigerian government will return the compliments of visa frustration to all those countries that treat us like garbage, someone drum it into the ears of Americans: “Visa na visa, na country dey different”.

The least that can be expected from the Nigerian government is to reciprocate the American frustration of Nigerians over visas. If it takes 400 days for a Nigerian to get an interview date for a US visa, it shouldn’t take a day less for the American wishing to visit Nigeria. This is my understanding of reciprocity. I am told that a US visa takes 291 days in New Delhi, 581 days in Mexico City and 664 days in Nairobi. But what comfort is it?

I recognize that many of our internet scammers have damaged the reputation of the Nigerian brand, but that is no excuse to treat every Nigerian like the scum of the earth. While we work to clean up our act, those who think they’re on top of the world right now will do well to clean up their old biases.

It is misleading to generally label Nigerians as fraudsters. Logic 101 teaches that a syllogism built on faulty foundations must crumble under the weight of its contradictions. It hurts to be singled out for the kind of unfair treatment Nigerians are being forced to endure by the US Embassy.

For this writer and many people of my generation, there is absolutely nothing existentially crucial about visiting America. In all my past visits, I have never exceeded two weeks because that is how long it takes me to start missing my beloved country. Nigeria may not be El Dorado, but I will dislocate the jaw that describes it as a shit hole.

Christian Nwamba, popularly known as “Codebeast” on social media, is a 25-year-old Nigerian software developer, author and speaker at local and international developer conferences.

He is widely published, with a reputation as the third most widely read author in the world with 64 publications and 4.35 million page views. This is not an easy task.

He recently lamented that he couldn’t join remote colleagues for team building sessions, as well as honoring invitations to speak at conferences or even attend global personal development conferences outside from Nigeria. He applied for a US visa to speak at the Zeit Day conference with his friend Prosper. He armed himself with invitation letters from the company, Zeit HQ and a letter of recommendation from his employer, Flutterwave. He was again refused a visa.

“The only crime I remember committing is being a Nigerian,” he laments.

While hoping that the Nigerian government will return the compliments of visa frustration to all those countries that treat us like garbage, someone drum it into the ears of Americans: “Visa na visa, na country dey different”.

Wole Olaoye is a seasoned public relations consultant and journalist. He can be contacted via [email protected] Twitter: @wole_olaoye; Instagram: woleola2021.


Support the integrity and credibility journalism of PREMIUM TIMES

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can guarantee the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy and a transparent government.

For free and continued access to the best investigative journalism in the country, we ask that you consider providing modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you help sustain relevant journalism and keep it free and accessible to everyone.

Make a donation



ANNOUNCEMENT TEXT: Call Willie – +2348098788999







PT Mag campaign announcement

Previous UK doctors pledge to save Ukrainian woman's sight thanks to generosity of Mail on Sunday readers
Next Government not considering new visa restrictions for Russians – The Irish Times