Long-term transfers


What are the main work and business permit categories used by companies to transfer skilled staff?

Companies that wish to hire skilled staff can do so via a TWP, a combined expatriate residence permit and aliens card (CERPAC) or an ECOWAS card. These are the three modes of transferring skilled staff.


What are the procedures for obtaining these permissions? At what stage can work begin?

The TWP is initiated through an application to the CGI and ultimately ends with the issuance of the visa by the Nigerian diplomatic mission in the assignee’s country of residence. The CERPAC begins with the grant of a subject to regularisation (STR) visa in the assignee’s country of residence. On arrival in Nigeria, the assignee would need to regularise the work visa by applying for the CERPAC. An ECOWAS card is the permit applicable to ECOWAS citizens who desire to reside and work in Nigeria. To apply for an ECOWAS card, an application letter requesting the card must be sent to the NIS, along with the following documents:

  • an ECOWAS travel certificate or international passport with at least six months’ validity;
  • a photocopy of the biodata page of the travel certificate or passport;
  • two copies of the applicant’s recent passport photograph; and
  • a duly completed and signed application form.

ECOWAS citizens that intend to take up employment must also submit the following additional documents:

  • a letter of employment;
  • a letter of acceptance of offer of employment;
  • copies of professional or educational certificates;
  • a copy of their CV; and
  • evidence of registration with professional bodes.

An ECOWAS card is valid for two years and can be renewed for two additional years.

Period of stay

What are the general maximum (and minimum) periods of stay granted under the main categories for company transfers?

A TWP is necessary where a company in Nigeria intends to assign an individual to undertake a short-term assignment. It is imperative to note that the TWP visa is valid for 90 days. The CERPAC allows expatriate employees to live and work in Nigeria for 12 months. The assignee may also apply for a renewal of his or her resident permit for a further period provided the quota position remains valid.

Processing time

How long does it typically take to process the main categories?

The application process for both categories usually takes eight to 10 weeks.

Staff benefits

Is it necessary to obtain any benefits or facilities for staff to secure a work permit?

Under Nigerian immigration laws, the CGI may require provision to be made for repatriation or bond payment into the consolidated revenue fund by way of deposit of an amount as prescribed by the Minister of Interior before a work authorisation may be secured.

Assessment criteria

Do the immigration authorities follow objective criteria, or do they exercise discretion according to subjective criteria?

The Nigerian immigration authorities follow both objective and discretionary criteria as provided for under relevant laws and regulations and policy directives of the government.

High net worth individuals and investors

Is there a special route for high net worth individuals or investors?

The federal government of Nigeria has introduced a policy to encourage foreign investment in Nigeria. Although the policy does not state the minimum investment required to benefit from this development, the discretion for this special route has been delegated to the NIS.

Is there a special route (including fast track) for high net worth individuals for a residence permission route into your jurisdiction?


Highly skilled individuals

Is there a special route for highly skilled individuals?


Ancestry and descent

Is there a special route for foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent?


Minimum salary

Is there a minimum salary requirement for the main categories for company transfers?

Nigerian immigration laws do not make provision for a minimum salary. The issue of (minimum) salaries is typically determined based on existing collective bargaining agreements or individual contracts.

Resident labour market test

Is there a quota system or resident labour market test?

There are no broad-based standards in this regard. However, in respect of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, the Nigerian Local Content Act details a standard for employment of individuals, giving priority to the employment of Nigerians and also identifying an employment and training programme for Nigerians as a necessary ingredient on any project. This Act further states that, where Nigerians considered for employment lack the necessary training, all endeavours must be made to provide this training within or outside Nigeria. The foregoing applies to both TWP and CERPAC.

Shortage occupations

Is there a special route for shortage occupations?


Other eligibility requirements

Are there any other main eligibility requirements to qualify for work permission in your jurisdiction?


Third-party contractors

What is the process for third-party contractors to obtain work permission?

Typically, work permission is tied to the companies that obtain this permission on behalf of the expatriate employee. Consequently, third-party contractors must also apply for work permits for their employees.

Recognition of foreign qualifications

Is an equivalency assessment or recognition of skills and qualifications required to obtain immigration permission?

Yes, the skills and qualifications of immigrants are assessed before immigration permission is granted.