An immigration lawyer, Mr. Dayo Adu, says Nigeria is likely to witness more influx of expatriates as the country moves up on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business index. He noted that as a result of recent deliberate efforts by the Federal Government, Nigeria had moved from 179 spot to 145 on the ease of doing business index.
This, he believed, would likely attract more foreign investors, who will establish businesses in Nigeria and consequently move into the country both capital and expatriates.
He said it had, therefore, become important that expatriates and their employers pay careful attention to the country’s immigration laws and regulations to avoid running into trouble.
Adu was the guest speaker at the 2017 edition of Hybrid Solicitors and Consult’s Annual Lecture and Luncheon, which held in December at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
He spoke on the topic: “Expatriate Employment, Immigration Regulations 2017 and the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.”
Among those present on the occasion were a judge of the National Industrial Court, Justice Ken Amadi; the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN); and other Senior Advocates of Nigeria, including Mr. Tunde Busari and Mr. Jelili Owonikoko.
Adu, in his lecture, pointed out that the requirements for expatriates to stay and work in Nigeria are well spelt out in the country’s Immigration Act 2015 and the Immigration Regulations 2017 and they must avail themselves of the information contained therein.
He noted that the laws had done more to check illegal immigration into the country by, for instance, putting an obligation on airline operators to ensure that foreigners coming into the country on their flight have proper travel documents and that hotel managers keep a register, detailing information about immigrants staying on their premises.
He listed some of the acts that could expose an expatriate or foreigner to criminal prosecution or earn them deportation from the country as unilateral alteration of their travel documents and switching of employer or job without informing the office of the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service.
He explained that the law had made it mandatory for employers of expatriates to ensure that two Nigerians are attached to an expatriate to understudy him.
“Corporate bodies who fail to employ Nigerians to understudy expatriate employees or allow their expatriate quota positions to be used by other organisations will be liable to a fine of N3m for each month the position has been occupied without an understudy and the relevant expatriate employees will be deported.
“An employer of a person liable to repatriation who discharges such a person without giving notice to the Comptroller General or causes such a person to be re-designated or change his employment without the consent of the Comptroller General is liable on conviction to a term of five years’ imprisonment or to a fine of N1m or both.
“A person who, for material or financial benefits, facilitates the illegal residence of a non-citizen in the country via fraudulent permits, is liable to an imprisonment for a term of 10 years or a fine of N1m,” Adu explained.
He, however, called for a review of some portions of the country’s immigration laws and regulations, which, he said, were ambiguous.
“There is a need for guidelines by the Ministry of Interior as some of the regulations contained in the Immigrations Regulations 2017 are ambiguous and require clarification; some of the regulations contradict the existing immigration practices without replacing them,” he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Managing Partner, Hybrid Solicitors and Consult, Mr. Bimbo Atilola, explained that the lecture was in line with the firm’s efforts to keep legal practitioners, human resource managers and the general public abreast of the constantly evolving labour laws and regulations in the country.