How to get a Work Permit in Nigeria

Process for Obtaining a Work Permit

Foreigners that desire to enter, work and reside in Nigeria have to comply with the Immigration requirements of the country. This article outlines the steps and requirements for obtaining work permits in Nigeria.

Work permit may be granted to an expatriate employee to enable him fill the expatriate quota (Residence Work Permit) or a casual expatriate staff engaged to execute specific temporary assignment (Temporary Work Permit). The first thing any company desirous of employing expatriates’ employees must do is to apply for the grant of an Expatriate Quota.


Temporary Work Permit (TWP)

The Temporary Work Permit Visa (TWP) is a single entry visa suitable for expatriates or foreign business persons who intend to carry out short-term work in Nigeria. This usually applies to expatriates invited by corporate bodies to carry out specialized skilled services such as Installation, Maintenance and repair of equipment, Training/capacity building for Nigerian staff. A Temporary Work Permit Visa is usually granted for 2 months. It can be extended in–country for an additional 6 months in phases. Application for TWP can be made through a corporate representative in Nigeria.


Expatriate Quota

This is a permit issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior that allows a company registered in Nigeria to employ expatriates. Typically, the Expatriate Quota is granted for a period ranging between two to three years at the discretion of the Minister of the Interior and is subject to renewal upon expiration. The quota is issued to the company and not the expatriate. As such, when the expatriate leaves the company, the position reverts to the sponsor company and the company may place another expatriate in the same position for as long as the quota position remains valid. There are two types of expatriate quota:

  1. Permanent Until Reviewed (PUR) – usually for the post of Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors or the Managing Director.
  2. Temporary – Directors and other employees of the company. .

As already noted It is the duty of the company and not that of the employee, to apply for expatriate quota. After the positions on the expatriate quota are granted by the Federal Ministry of Interior, the expatriate employee has to apply for a Subject to Regularization Visa from the Nigerian Embassy or diplomatic mission in his/her country of residence.


Subject to Regularization Visa (STR)

This category of Visa applies to expatriates taking up long-term employment in Nigeria or who intend to stay in the country for purposes that are not short term. The dependents of expatriates applying for STR can also apply for the visa. The STR visa is valid for 90 days during which an application must be made to the Comptroller-General of Immigration (CGI), to regularize the stay of the prospective employee, and the person may assume his employment only when such application is approved and a Residence Work Permit granted.

Thus, upon gaining entry with the STR Visa, it is necessary for the expatriate employees to obtain an Expatriate Residence and work Permit, which would enable them to regularise residence within the country by making an application to the CGI requesting for the regularisation. Once this application is approved, the expatriate is issued a green coloured non-transferrable card, generally referred to as ‘CERPAC’.


Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC)

The combined CERPAC scheme was introduced in 2002, providing for foreigners (except ECOWAS citizens accredited diplomats and children below the age of 15 years) working or living in Nigeria to carry CERPAC card.

CERPAC is a long-term work authorization. It is valid for one year and subject to renewal. An expatriate that is only required to be in Nigeria briefly won’t require a CERPAC but a short-term work authorization like the Temporary Work Permit and the Business Visa depending on the purpose of his/her entry. By virtue of the CERPAC separate applications for a Work Permit and a Resident Permit are no longer necessary.


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We hope you have found this information helpfulPlease note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. It is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.

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