I am Patricia Machele Daboh, and I wrote and submitted two articles entitled, Nigeria Is Beautiful To Me and Rejected For Loving A Nigerian Man on Nigerians In America. You can access that website at www.nigeriansinamerica.com. As a result of that article, women, who are engaged to Nigerian men and want to fly to Nigeria to get married, have asked me questions ranging from purchasing a passport, visa, shots needed, purchasing the airplane ticket, the wedding ceremony, and filing the necessary paperwork in order to bring their Nigerian husbands back to their country. I am by no means an expert on this subject, but one thing I have that these women lack is “the experience of the Immigration process”. Matter fact, we are still going through that process. At this point, my husband’s visa-issuing paperwork has been sent to the Lagos, Nigeria Embassy, and we are now going through the “Visa” process, which is conducted by the National Visa Center. After we successfully complete that phase of the Immigration Process, my husband will have his interview at the Lagos, Nigeria Embassy. So, with that in mind, I want to share what I know at this point and have experienced, for I do not want you to have any misconceptions about the length of time it will take to finally be reunited with your husband. It is not an overnight process, and to have a better idea of what to expect will elevate some stresses and disappointments that may come during the waiting process. Therefore, I have put together this information to aid women in bringing their Nigerian husbands to the United States. Best wishes to you all!
Before I begin, I want you to understand (with 100% clarity) that if you have not met your Nigerian fiancé in person (meaning you met him over the internet or by some other means and have not physically been in his presence) DO NOT waste your time and money by filing an I129F Petition For Fiance, for you will be denied. That petition allows your fiancé the privilege of coming to your country, but one stipulation, which they will adhere to, is that you must first have met your fiancé within two years prior to filing the fiancé petition. How do I know that? My husband and I tried it (without my having met him), and we were denied. The cost of the I129F Petition For Fiance is $170.00, and you will not get that money back when you are denied. The Immigration does approve some of those petitions if you have not met your fiancé in person, but those are circumstances where perhaps his cultural custom does not allow you two to meet prior to the wedding day (that was stated in my denial letter). If that is not your case, do not waste your money. The cost to appeal your petition, once denied, is $385.00, but why try to appeal the decision when your circumstances does not warrant an overturn in your situation. We learned that the hard way. You do not have to learn this lesson the hard way, for I am writing this to help you avoid that!
I wanted to talk about the travel documents you will need first because many of these documents are time sensitive, meaning you MUST have these documents and forms way in advance of your planned trip, or you may not be eligible to travel during the time period you desire.
At the time I was planning to meet, my then fiancé, and travel to Lagos, Nigeria for my wedding, I searched various websites trying to find out what I needed to travel to Lagos, Nigeria, and the one I found the most helpful, who processed my visa, is Travel Document Systems, Inc. There are other ones out there also, which are probably full of important and necessary information as well, but I, personally, liked the Travel Documents website the most.
I recommend this website highly, for it fully explains every piece of document you need to travel. Traveling to meet and marry my husband was my first airplane ride and the first time I flew out of the country. So if I, an inexperienced flyer, can get it right the first time, so can you. I will give you the short version of that information. You need the following:
PASSPORT – There is a time frame in processing a passport, so you should purchase one well in advance of your expected travel date. I went to our main post office branch in the town where I lived and got an application. At our post office, I had to make an appointment to do the actual processing of the passport, but you should pick up your application prior to your appointment and have the application filled out. The cost for your passport is on the application, so you can refer to that for the cost.
PASSPORT IMPORTANT INFORMATION - If you already have a passport, you must have at least 6 months travel time left on it before it expires, or you cannot use that one.
PASSPORT PICTURES – You will need 2 passport pictures to submit with your passport during your appointment. But, it was cheaper for me to get my passport pictures taken somewhere else and bring my pictures with me. The post office has equipment set up to take your passport pictures, but it is usually a little more costly. For example, the post office charged $15.00 for 2 passport pictures, and I had them taken somewhere else for $7.99 for 2 passport pictures. Make sure you choose the RIGHT background color for the passport application (read the color requirements on the passport application before taking the picture).
YELLOW FEVER VACCINATION – In order to enter into Lagos, Nigeria, you will need to get a Yellow Fever Vaccination. I got mine through the Health Department. International shots usually must to be scheduled in advance, so you should call your local health department and see how much of a time frame you need to take the shot. If my memory serves me well, you must get your shot within one month before you leave (please double check this out on the website in order to stay within the time frame). The total cost for my Yellow Fever Vaccination where I live was $122.00 (Ouch it stung, girls)! Now there are many more international shots you can get if you want to (optional), but you MUST get this one in order to enter into Lagos, Nigeria (not optional). My Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate was stapled in my passport, so it could be verified as I went through the custom check when I landed in Lagos, Nigeria.
VISA – You MUST also purchase a Visa in order to enter into Lagos, Nigeria. Again, the website that I recommended, can process that for you. I had my visa processed through them (Travel Documents). In order to process a Visa through them you must:
Apply for and receive your passport first, for you must send the passport to Travel Document Systems, Inc. in order for them to put your Visa sticker on one of your pages in your passport.
Send your original birth certificate with your visa application and passport. They will return it when they send your passport back to you with the visa attached to one of the pages.
Send your International Certificate of Vaccination (what you receive after you take your Yellow Fever Vaccination) along with your application and passport.
Send them a Letter of Invitation from your fiancé (he has to write it, sign and date it). The letter invites you to come to Nigeria as his guest. It should include the dates in which you will actually spend in Nigeria. NOTE: This was required on Travel Document Systems, Inc. when I purchased my Visa. Check to see if the Letter of Invitation is needed now. If in doubt of this being needed to obtain your visa, call Travel Document Systems, Inc., and talk to a representative.
You must send Travel Document Systems, Inc. a copy (not original tickets) of your round trip airplane ticket or an itinerary from the Travel Agency who booked your flight. This will show you intend to go back to your country after your visit.
Do not forget to include your visa application, passport, Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate, original birth certificate (not a copy), fee, and invitation letter (if needed ) when mailing your documents to the Travel Document Systems, Inc.
You can purchase a visa for single or multiple entries. If you need it expedited (processed quickly), there is an additional fee for that.
If you have any questions prior to sending in your documents to process your visa, please call them, for you do not want your visa to be denied or delayed.
About Patricia Daboh
Patricia Daboh contributes articles to Nigerians In America and Nigerian Muse and can be reached through her email address here.