Today, I decide to write on how to address the Verify on Arrival endorsement palava on Nigerian passports and how to address the issue. A handful of people I have met in recent times have gone through this difficult experience. Unfortunately, there are no information about this subject online. So, I have put together 7 commonsense tips that could help anyone confronted with this challenge.
“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport”. – Anonymous.
THE NUMBER OF NIGERIANS IN SOUTH AFRICA.
First, let’s look at the available data on the number of Nigerians that have called South Africa their new home. In 2016, Statistics South Africa’s community survey estimates that 30,000 Nigerians live in South Africa. This figure is similar to the 2017 United Nation’s estimate of just a little bit over 27,000 Nigerians living in South Africa. Whichever way you look at the available figures, one thing stands true: Nigerians are visible across the length and breadth of South Africa – from Arcadia to Sophia Town and to Eshowe!
No doubt, as Nigerians, we love to criss-cross the world with the added excitement of being able to visit home in Nigeria at will. However, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of before you depart Johannesburg for Lagos.
VERIFY ON ARRIVAL: WHAT IT MEANS
As a temporary or permanent resident visa holder in South Africa, your visa may be subjected to scrutiny before you depart any of South Africa’s Port of exit. South Africa’s immigration officers have the right to question the validity of your permission to stay in South Africa. When this happens, the immigration officer at the departure section of the airport may leave comment such as ‘verify on Arrival’ on your passport.
What this means is that the officer is not convinced that you are in possession of a genuine visa. It could also mean that your previously issued visa(s) may be fraudulent. You should know that these are grave immigration offenses if found to be true.
Even though you will be allowed to continue with your trip to Lagos, consequences await you! The resultant effect of this endorsement on your passport is that airline staff in Lagos will not allow you to board the aircraft back to South Africa. You may only be allowed if you buy a return ticket for Johannesburg to Lagos. This is to ensure that the airline does not have to bear the cost of transporting you back to Lagos for free, should incase you are declared undesirable and processed for deportation on arrival at OR Tambo.
But don’t panic! I have listed helpful tips on how to plan ahead for your trips. A few ideas are also presented on how to address the Verify on Arrival wàhálà, from your departure from OR Tambo and back to arrival at OR Tambo!
7 TIPS TO ADDRESS THE JOBURG TO LAGOS VERIFY ON ARRIVAL PASSPORT ENDORSEMENT
1. Always travel with your documents. Ensure you neatly pack all the documents you used for applying for your visas in an envelope. You may be requested to provide your spouse ID, business registration documents, SARS papers, marriage certificate, child(ren)’s birth certificates, etc. For safety reasons, travel with recently (not less than 3 months) SAPS certified documents. You do not need to travel with your original documents for as long as you certify the photocopies.
2. Be calm. At every point of your interaction with law enforcement officers, stay cool, calm and collected! Answer all questions to the best of your knowledge and confidently.
3. If your visa authenticity is challenged, politely request for the immediate verification if you still have time before your flight takes off.
4. If your request (as in point #3) is turned down, accept the officers judgment.
5. Visit South Africa’s High Commission in Lagos for authentication of your visa. If you’re lucky to get this – the airline should accept it and you may not need to buy a return ticket. Alternatively, you may visit VFS in Lagos or Abuja to advice.
6. If you don’t want the wàhálà of traveling up and down across Naija :), you may as well just buy your return ticket to Johannesburg. To cut cost, ask the ticketing agent to find you specials.
7. Know your story on arrival. First thing first, be calm! And make sure you have all your documents handy. The immigration officer will definitely invite you to the interrogation room, upon spotting the verify on arrival endorsement on your passport. Answer all questions truthfully and confidently. Present supporting documents if requested. In most cases, you will stamped in and welcomed back to the country, if your papers are in order.
Good luck and please let us know how your experience turns out in the comment section.