EU Earns Millions from Nigerian Visa Rejections

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According to Nairametrics, the European Union reported earning €3.4 million from rejected Schengen visa applications submitted by Nigerian citizens.

Schengen visa statistics reveal that this revenue came from Nigerian applicants in 2023. Globally, EU governments collected €130 million from rejected Schengen visa applications, with African and Asian countries bearing 90 percent of these costs, as reported by EUobserver.com.

The report highlights that African countries are disproportionately impacted, with rejection rates of 40-50 percent for Ghana, Senegal, and Nigeria.

These figures exclude the additional costs incurred from being unable to travel for business and leisure, as well as expenses for legal advice and private agencies involved in visa processing.

Marta Foresti, founder of LAGO Collective and senior visiting fellow at the Overseas Development Institute, stated, “Visa inequality has very tangible consequences and the world’s poorest pay the price.” She added, “You can think of the costs of rejected visas as ‘reverse remittances’, money flowing from poor to rich countries. We never hear about these costs when discussing aid or migration, it is time to change that.”

The EU estimates that about half of all irregular migrants within its 27 member states result from visa overstays. "Last year, over 83,000 non-EU citizens were sent back to their countries, a return rate of 19 percent," according to the EU Commission.

Over the past year, the EU has started using visa restrictions as a political tool, invoking Article 25a of its 2019 visa code to impose restrictions on countries with low rates of migrant returns. 

For instance, in April, the EU Council imposed visa sanctions on Ethiopia, including a ban on multiple-entry visas and the removal of visa fee exemptions for diplomatic and service passport holders, citing Ethiopia’s lack of cooperation in returning its nationals staying illegally in EU countries.

Conversely, in April, EU ministers lifted visa restrictions on The Gambia, imposed in 2021, after its migrant return rate increased from 14 percent in 2022 to 37 percent in 2023.

The phenomenon of visa rejections has been termed 'reverse remittances,' according to an analysis shared with EUobserver, with these non-refundable fees continuing to impact applicants. The largest number of visa applications to the EU come from Morocco and Algeria, and data indicates higher rejection rates for short-term visitor visas to Europe and the UK for applicants from low and middle-income countries.

The EU stated, “The cost of Schengen visa rejections in 2023 reached €130 million, an increase from €105 million in 2022. The rejection rate is expected to rise in 2024, as the EU visa application fee for adults will increase from €80 to €90 on 11 June, following a recent decision by the EU Commission.”

Meanwhile, the UK raised £44 million (€50 million) from rejected visa fees.

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