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President Trump’s decision to add Nigeria to a list of countries with visa bans had significant consequences for Nigerians. It made it harder for Nigerians to apply for permanent immigrant visas to the US, disrupted family reunions, and affected skilled immigrants and the companies relying on their expertise. Even before the ban, the Trump administration had enforced stricter rules that disproportionately affected Nigeria, the country with the world’s most populous black nation. These measures included reprisals for visa overstays and increased visa application fees, which led to a drop in visitors to the US from Nigeria in 2019. Advocates are sceptical about the Biden administration’s ability to reverse these measures, but President Biden has already overturned the ban, which signals a positive shift in immigration policy for Nigerians. We will share the types of US visas available and the eligibility criteria.

Types of US Visas: The Complete Guide For Nigerians

What are the Criteria for a US Visa as a Nigerian

The criteria for Nigerians are the same as for citizens of other countries. They depend on the types of US visas you are seeking, in large part, but some things apply to all visa applicants, such as:

You must be truthful in completing your application and speaking to the visa officer. That means don’t lie and don’t use fake documents, even if some visa consultant advises you otherwise. Visa officers can recognize body language that reveals when a person is not honest. When applying for a visa to the US, it’s crucial to understand the type of visa you need and what activities are permitted. If you apply for the wrong visa, such as a tourist visa (B2), with intentions of living and working in the US, you may get a denial. Tourist visas are non-immigrant visas and cannot be for permanent residency or employment in the US. 

To get a US visa, you should prove to the visa officer that you have strong connections to your home country. It shows that you won’t stay illegally in the US. If someone in the US is helping you with accommodation or expenses, they might think you’ll try to overstay. Remember, US law assumes visa applicants want to move there permanently unless you prove otherwise. So, you must show convincing reasons to return home on time to get the visa.

What are the types of US visas for Nigerians?

The USA has a detailed VISA regime, which starts from Visa Type A to Visa Type Z. There are two main categories of US visas: non-immigrant and immigrant.

Immigrant visas are for those intending to live permanently in the United States. Non-immigrant visas are for temporary stays, such as tourism, study, work, or business. Each category further subdivides into specific visa types based on the purpose of travel and eligibility criteria.

Non-Immigrant Visa 

Tourist Visa

The B2 Visa, also known as the Tourist Visa, allows individuals to temporarily visit the US for various purposes like seeing family, vacationing, or medical treatment. Holders can engage in unpaid creative or social events and short recreational courses. Nigerian citizens can apply for a B2 Visa if their travel plans meet these criteria and they fulfil general immigration requirements. The application process includes completing Form DS-160, paying a $185 fee, and scheduling an interview at a US Embassy or Consulate in Nigeria. Successful applicants may stay in the US for up to 60 months for short business or tourism trips.

Student Visa

There are three types of US visas for students

F Visa

This particular category of US student visa is for international students planning to pursue academic studies at an accredited US college or university. It also applies to those seeking to study English at a university or intensive English language institute. There are three variations of the F visa:

  • F-1 visas for full-time students.
  • F-2 visas for dependents of F-1 visa holders (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21). It includes same-sex married couples.
  • F-3 visas for border commuters– Mexican and Canadian students who reside in their country of origin while attending part- or full-time school in the US.

Students with F-1 visas can work on-campus for 20 hours a week or less. Students wishing to work longer hours and off-campus must gain prior authorization from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – they may also grant work authorization for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) for a total of twelve months, without accruing more than 90 days of unemployment.

M visa

The second category of US student visas is for international students seeking non-academic or vocational study or training within US institutions. There are three variations of the M visa:

  • M-1 visas are for students enrolled in vocational or non-academic programs.
  • M-2 visas are for dependents of M-1 visa holders, similar to F-2 visas.
  • M-3 visas are for border commuters engaged in vocational or non-academic studies, akin to F-3 visas.
  • M-1 students are admitted to the US for a specific duration, including the length of their training program plus any Optional Practical Training. 

They are typically not permitted to stay longer than one year unless there are medical reasons for an extension. M-1 visa holders can not work on- or off-campus while studying and cannot change their status to F-1.

J Visa

The J visa is another type of US student visa designated for international exchange visitors participating in cultural exchange programs within the US. Whether for medical, business, or other training, applicants must meet the program’s eligibility criteria and sponsorship by a private sector or government program. J visa holders typically stay in the US for a short duration, often one or two semesters. There are two categories of J visas:

  • J-1 visas are for exchange students enrolled in relevant exchange programs.
  • J-2 visas are for dependents of J-1 visa holders, similar to F-2 visas.
  • J-1 visa holders may be subject to the two-year home-country physical presence

Work Visa

Depending on your job type, you’ll need a specific visa to work temporarily in the US. The USCIS must approve your petition for H, L, O, P, or Q visas. You’ll need to complete Form I-129 and have it authorized before applying for a work visa at the consulate. After the authorization, your employer will receive Form I-797 as notice. You must bring copies of Form I-797 and Form I-129 to your consulate interview.

Here’s a breakdown of the work visas available:

  • H1-B for Specialty Occupation: Requires a Bachelor’s degree. Employers must file a labour condition application to the Department of Labor.
  • H-1 B-1 for Temporary Work: Available for Singaporean and Chilean citizens with a job offer in the US.
  • H-2A for Seasonal Agricultural Workers: Allows US employers to hire foreign nationals for temporary agricultural jobs.
  • H-2B for Skilled and Unskilled Workers: Granted for temporary or seasonal jobs with a shortage of US workers.
  • H-3 for Trainees: Needed to receive training in the US for up to two years without providing productive employment.
  • H-4 for Dependents: Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of H visa holders can accompany them but are not allowed to work.
  • L-1 for Intra-company Transferees: For employees temporarily transferred within a multinational company.
  • L-2 for Dependents: Spouses and unmarried children under 21 of L visa holders can accompany them but may not work.
More on the Types of US visas
  • Type O Visa: For individuals with extraordinary abilities or achievements in various fields.
  • Type P Visa: For athletes, entertainers, artists, and support personnel coming to perform in the US.
  • Type Q Visa: Required for participation in international cultural exchange programs in the US, sponsored and approved by USCIS.

Final thought

Now that you understand the different types of US visas available for Nigerians and their eligibility criteria, you can choose the one that best suits your needs. The application process for a US visa is complicated. Therefore, we recommend you seek professional assistance to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Do you need someone to guide you through the entire application process, from choosing the visa to preparing your documents and acing your interview? Click here to get all the help you need.


Author Chinwe

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