On 20 March 2017, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) issued the Immigration Regulations 2017, implementing the Immigration Act 2015.
The Regulations introduce a residence registration requirement, extend the validity period of residence permits, allow the Minister of Interior to stay the deportation of foreign nationals while an application for renewal of their employer’s Expatriate Quota is pending, and revamp penalties for non-compliance.
The Regulations introduce a requirement for foreign nationals to register with the National Immigration Service (NIS) in the State where they reside, within seven days of arrival.
Registration for ECOWAS nationals
Registration with the NIS is also now required for nationals of Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS), who do not require visas or work permits to enter or take up employment in Nigeria. This registration must be completed within 90 days of entry and prior to the employment start date.
The Regulations allow residence permits to be granted for a period of stay of up to two years, in line with the Expatriate Quota approval. Previously, residence permits were granted for stays of a maximum of one year.
Stay of Deportation
In practice, while an application for the renewal of an Expatriate Quota (EQ) is pending, the EQ could expire, making the relevant expatriates liable to deportation. The Regulations have codified a solution to this problem by allowing the Minister to issue a stay of action for such deportations. Eligibility for such a stay is dependent on the existence of a pending EQ application.
The Regulations provide that foreign nationals who fail to:
a. regularise their stay within the prescribed three months,
b. renew their business permit, visitor’s visa, transit visa or temporary work permit after expiration, or
c. renew their resident permit within thirty days from expiration,
are liable on conviction to a term of three years’ imprisonment or a fine of NGN 500,000 (about USD 1600) or both.