Statistics by SchengenVisaInfo have shown that in 2018, Nigerians spent €5,315,220 on visa applications to Europe.
The report added that €2,644,560 of the stated amount was spent by applicants who were refused visa.
The statistics also indicated that in 2018, Schengen embassies and consulates in Nigeria processed 88,587 visa applications, 44,076 of which were rejected.
“With this, Nigeria had the highest rejection rate of 49.8 per cent among all third-countries in need of visas,” the report, signed by the Deputy Editor at SchengenVisaInfo, Granit Sadiku, stated.
According to the report, France was the top favourite country for visa submission, as 33,308 of the applications submitted in Nigeria were for Schengen visas to France, followed by Italy with 13,295 and Germany with 10,847 applications.
The report however stated that, “as from February 2020, Nigerian citizens will need to pay a fee of €80, instead of €60 as they did so far, when applying for a Schengen Visa from Nigeria.”
“Children too, will have to pay €40 instead of €35, as it is currently,” it added.
The report added, “Nigerians will be subject to several changes in terms of visa application procedures, rules and benefits, starting from Monday, February 2, 2020.
“Due to the implementation of the Updated Schengen Visa Code, adopted by the EU Council in June 2019, all representative missions of the Schengen countries located abroad are obliged to apply the new rules, including the ones in Nigeria.”
Quoting an official from the Information Monitoring and Media Division of Lithuania, SchengenVisaInfo says,“Since Regulation (EU) 2019/1155 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 amending Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code) is binding in its entirety, and is directly applicable in all EU Member States in accordance with the Treaties, all Schengen countries, including Lithuania, will apply it from 2 February 2020.”
The new rules also permit Nigerians to submit an application up to six months in advance of their trip, instead of three as it is now, and foresees a harmonised approach to the issuing of multiple entry visas with lengthier validity to regular travelers with a positive visa history.
Member States that are not represented in Nigeria in terms of visa admission are now obliged to cooperate with external service providers, in order to facilitate visa application for travelers.
The external service providers are allowed to charge a service fee, which cannot be higher than the visa fee. This means Nigerians applying at an external visa service provider may have to pay up to €160 per visa application, if the external service providers set the maximum service fee permitted, which is €80.
In addition, the updated Visa Code introduces a mechanism that assesses whether the visa fees should change every three years.
Another mechanism that will use visa processing as leverage will be introduced, in a bid to improve cooperation with third countries on readmission.
According to Gent Ukëhajdaraj from SchengenVisaInfo, due to this mechanism the fees may increase even to €160 if the EU authorities see it necessary.
“A visa fee of €120 or €160 will apply to non-cooperative third-countries, in cases when the EU Commission considers that action is needed in order to improve the level of cooperation of the third country concerned and the Union’s overall relations with that third country,” Ukëhajdaraj explains, adding that this provision shall not apply to children under 12 years old.
The mechanism may also shorten visa validity, and introduce prolonged visa processing periods.