In Nigeria, the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for the administration and technical enforcement of the Nigerian Immigration Act 2015 and the Immigration Regulations 2017 as they relate to the establishment of business in Nigeria by wholly foreign-owned or joint venture companies and the employment of expatriates. These responsibilities include granting business permits, approving expatriate quota and monitoring the utilisation of quota positions by companies to ensure the effective transfer of technology to Nigerian understudies and eventual indigenisation of the positions occupied by the expatriates.
August 2022 saw the Nigerian Ministry of the Interior release a circular informing the public of a revised Handbook on Expatriate Quota Administration. The revised handbook introduces additional requirements to the existing framework for foreigners doing business in Nigeria. Some of the notable changes made by the revised handbook include the following:
Formerly, a company must have a minimum share capital of ten million (10,000,000) shares to be able to apply for a business permit and expatriate quota positions.
However, the revised handbook has increased the minimum share capital requirement for companies seeking to apply for a business permit to one hundred million (100,000,000). The value of equipment or machinery imported into the country for the purpose of conducting business could also form a portion of the paid-up capital to be invested in the country. This will considerably increase the cost of business registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission as the cost is typically a function of the amount of share capital.
The expatriate quota lifespan has been revised such that the facility is for a period of three (3) years in the first instance, renewable biennially two consecutive times within a lifespan of seven (7) years, except for approvals for companies in the oil and gas industry, the approval of which will be for an initial period of 2 years and renewable once within a life span of 4 years.
The revised handbook mandates that the National Identification Number (NIN) of the expatriates and their Nigerian understudies shall be reflected in the monthly returns filing. Monthly returns refer to reports on the utilisation of the expatriate quota issued to the company. It contains information such as the nationality of the expatriates, date of entry to and exit from Nigeria and where they reside in the country. It shall now include the NIN of the expatriates and their Nigerian understudies.
The revised handbook provides for an increase in the statutory fees applicable to each service category and stipulates a fine of NGN 3,000,000 (three million Naira) on any company that fails to renew the expatriate quota or render the mandatory expatriate monthly returns within the stipulated time. The same rate of fine being NGN 3,000,000 (three million Naira) shall be payable for each month by any company that fails to employ Nigerian understudies as required.
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