New visa policy: Envoy advises Nigerians to check with airlines

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The Consul General of Nigeria in New York, United States of America, Ambassador Lot Egopija, has advised the Nigerians in the US with expired passports travelling home to cross check with their airlines before travelling.

Egopija gave the advice in an interview while reacting to the new visa policy of the Federal Government.

The new visa policy states that Nigerians in the diaspora with dual citizenship are free to travel home with their Nigeria passport even if it is expired.

By the policy, they should show their expired Nigeria passport to ensure they are truly from Nigeria.

The envoy confirmed in the interview with the News Agency of Nigeria that the Nigeria Immigration Service had issued a circular to Nigerian diplomatic missions abroad to inform airlines operators and border authorities of host countries of the policy.

Egopija said: “This new policy has to work with the airlines and some airlines are insisting some passengers boarding their flights will need Emergency Travelling Certificate.

“And in that case, we always would tell Nigerians who want to go with expired Passport to check with the airlines, if the airlines will accept the government’s policy because we don’t own an airline.

“But most airlines that fly straight to Nigeria from their base will always do not have problem but airlines with connecting flights will somehow hesitate.

“So, we always ask Nigerians, intending travellers to check with the airlines.

“Just to make assurance double sure.”

According to him, most airlines have accepted the government’s decision to allow Nigerians to travel home, but the nationals needed to cross check before travelling.

Egopija, however, said that the Consulate had been working hard to ensure that Nigerians that applied for Passports get them before travelling.

The envoy said the Consulate had also gone to Michigan, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Indiana for passport intervention to provide passports for its nationals in those states.

According to him: “Michigan is the highest with about between 450 and 500 people and we’ve been able to deliver about 80 per cent passports in Michigan.

“We are now working with the Immigration headquarters to ensure that the remaining passports are delivered.

“The same thing goes for all other places.

“We have not been able to produce that of Wisconsin and Indianapolis (Indiana) because we went there very late, and it fell within the United Nations General Assembly period in September ending.

“But this week, we have started consciously to make sure that this is produced and that the people who would travel, get their passports shortly before they travel.

“But that also brings to mind that many of the people who will travel now have another opportunity to travel to Nigeria, even with expired passports with recent government’s decision to allow Nigerians travel with expired passports.”

Egopija, however, assured the nationals of improved service delivery in the coming year, saying: “We have a pact with them and we will continue to do everything for them to improve our delivery services.”

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