The U.S. Mission in Nigeria has announced the launching of a pilot visa application procedure aimed at expanding services to assist non-immigrant visa applicants in the country to qualify to renew their visas.
According to Susan Tuller, the U.S. Mission Consular Coordinator, The No-Interview Visa Renewals process, a pilot project targeted specifically at students and tourists’ visas and some work visas was launched at the U.S. Consular section in Lagos and is expected to be extended to Abuja “shortly.”
“The pilot programme specifically will significantly increase the opportunities that Nigerians will have to apply to renew a visa if they’ve already been issued a US visa in the past and they meet the criteria for eligibility,” Ms Tuller said at a press conference in Lagos.
“And this programme is one of our continuing efforts that we’ve been making for the past year since we were closed for a short period at the beginning of the pandemic to increase the consular services that we provide to both Nigerians and Americans living in Nigeria despite the ongoing challenges that we continue to face as a result of the pandemic.
“The good news is that our consular sections in Lagos and Abuja have been fully opened for services for over a year now and we’ve been able to provide the full range of services for both Nigerians and Americans for those seeking to go to the US on tourist travel or immigrate to the US.
“We know that it’s still extremely difficult to get a visa appointment, either at the Consular section here in Lagos or the Consular section in Abuja.
“And the intent of the new programme is to allow us to increase our services for people seeking to travel to the US for tourism or some types of work or to study while still being able to provide the services that we have to provide to Americans living in Nigeria, like renewing passports and obtaining birth certificates for their children and the services that we need to provide to Nigerians who want to immigrate to the United States to reunite with family.”
This new procedure bears some similarities and differences with the drop box facility, the earlier method that equally eliminated in-person interviews for visa applicants which was suspended in 2019.
Ms. Tuller said they also found that the drop box method didn’t help with their overall productivity or efficiency or customer service as Consular officers were still calling over 50 per cent of the people who applied through that programme in for interviews.
“Even though they had already met certain eligibility criteria that would allow them not to have an interview. But there were so many questions in the applications that we received that we’re hauling quite a few people in which was not good for customer service and it was not good for our productivity.”
Under the No-Interview Visa Renewal, the number of qualified applicants who can apply using the new procedures will be limited initially.
This new application procedure will begin in February at the U.S. Consulate in Lagos and will be extended shortly thereafter to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja.
Conditions for qualification for the non-interview visa renewal include application for a B1/B2, F, M, J (academic only), H, L or C1/D (combined only) visa.
Other conditions that are listed include the following:
That an applicant’s previous visa was issued in Nigeria; the previous visa is in the same classification as the current application; and that the previous visa was a full validity, multiple entry visa.
Other conditions are that the applicant’s previous visa expired within the last 24 months or will expire in the next three months from the date of application; and that applicants must have all their passports covering the entire period since receiving the previous visa and the passport with the most recent visa;
Applicants must also have never been arrested or convicted of any crime or offense in the United States, even if they later received a waiver or pardon; and have never worked without authorization or remained beyond their permitted time in the United States.
Applicants who meet these conditions can start their application immediately.
Processing times for the program are expected to be up to two months and applicants will not be able to retrieve their passports during that time.