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    EU not required to end Americans’ visa-free access: ECJ

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    Americans’ visa-free access to Europe was on safer ground Tuesday after the EU’s top court ruled Brussels need not reciprocate for Washington discriminating against some Europeans visiting the United States.

    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said the European Commission is not automatically required to suspend the visa exemption as it has “political discretion” to decide whether to do so or not.

    The ECJ rejected an argument from the European Parliament that the United States barring citizens from a few EU countries from its own visa-waiver programme should automatically trigger EU retaliation.

    The commission “cannot be accused of having failed to act,” the court said.

    The European Union maintains that all citizens of its 27 member countries should be treated equally when they travel outside the bloc.

    Currently, the United States waives visa requirements for all EU nationals making short visits of up to 90 days — except for those from Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania.

    Washington previously also required visas from citizens of Croatia, but that country was added to the US visa waiver programme two years ago.

    The European Union allows Americans visa-free entry for up to 90 days.

    Although EU law upholds a principle that only those outside countries giving visa-free entry to “all nationals of EU member states may benefit from such an exemption for their own nationals” there is no automatic trigger, the ECJ said.

    The commission has leeway to decide whether such reciprocity “is justified,” it ruled.

    Its evaluation needed to take into account the “consequences” of what a reciprocal visa requirement would entail, the ECJ said—a weighty factor, given the United States’ trade and economic heft, and close political ties with the EU.

    – ESTA and ETIAS –
    For most Europeans, visits to the United States mean obtaining an ESTA—an Electronic System for Travel Authorization—which acts to screen those eligible for a visa waiver on entry.

    The European Union plans to bring in a similar system next year called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System), which Americans and other visa-waiver nationalities would need to obtain before boarding.

    Both Washington and Brussels say these pre-travel screening approvals do not constitute visas, even though they evaluate applicants against entry criteria, as visas do.

    An ESTA application costs $21 and, if obtained, is generally good for two years. An ETIAS application is expected to cost around seven euros ($7.50) and be valid for three years.

    Americans last year accounted for five percent of long-haul tourist arrivals in the overall Europe region — which includes the EU and non-EU countries Turkey and Britain — or some 28 million visits, according to the European Travel Commission (ETC), a non-profit organisation that promotes European tourism.

    The top destinations for long-haul visitors were Turkey, France, Spain and Britain, the ETC said.

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    BREAKING NEWS: UAE Considering Slashing Visa/DVN Fees for Nigerians

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    BREAKING NEWS: UAE Considering Slashing Visa/DVN Fees for Nigerians

    On October 21, 2022, the UAE government announced a ban on 20 African countries, including Nigeria.

    However, on July 15, 2024, Nigeria’s Information Minister, Mohammed Idris, announced that the ban “had been lifted following a mutually beneficial discussion” between Nigeria and the UAE.

     

    Also read: Nigeria, UAE to Strengthen Partnership, Collaboration

     

    Since this announcement, there has been a frenzy of information activities in the media.

     

    Visa Fees and Banking Requirements:

    Changes are imminent and reveal a source close to the UAE. Following the recent lifting of the visa ban, the UAE imposed more controls on the visa process, requiring document verification to ensure the authenticity of documents submitted by applicants.

    The Document Verification Number (DVN) fee was structured at 640,000 NGN by the website managing the DVN process, documentverificationhub.ae. Additionally, a bank balance of 15 million naira was requested as a precondition to obtain a visa.

    These stringent fees and banking requirements have caused significant concern and backlash among Nigerian travellers and stakeholders.

     

    Potential Review and Reduction of Fees:

    In response to the widespread concern, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) requested through official channels that the UAE reconsider these fees.

    However, only the UAE has the power to lower these stringent conditions, something the Nigerian government has been actively pushing for.

    Sources close to the UAE have revealed that a new and revised rate for DVN and the bank balance requirement is imminent. This potential review aims to make it more affordable for Nigerians to visit the UAE for tourism, business, and family visits.

    The FG’s efforts appear to have been successful, with several sources confirming that the UAE is seriously considering revising the fee structure.

     

    Impact on Nigerian Travelers:

    A reduction in DVN and visa fees would alleviate the financial burden on Nigerian travellers, making it easier for them to visit the UAE. This move is expected to foster stronger ties between the two nations, encouraging more tourism, business engagements, and cultural exchanges.

    Lowering the fees would likely increase the number of Nigerian visitors to the UAE, boosting tourism and economic activities. It would also provide an opportunity for more Nigerians to explore business and investment opportunities in the UAE.

     

    Timeline and Implementation:

    Although the exact timeline for the fee reduction has not been announced, changes are anticipated soon.

    Detailed guidelines and updated fee structures are expected following the review.

    The potential reduction of visa and DVN fees underscores the UAE’s commitment to maintaining strong bilateral relations with Nigeria.

    This development signifies a positive step towards more inclusive and affordable travel policies, benefiting Nigerian citizens and enhancing diplomatic ties.

    The DVN will improve Nigeria’s image in the UAE, hoping that more credible people will be able to travel & do business in UAE with ease and remove negative perception from the few Nigerians involved in crime

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    Nigeria, UAE to Strengthen Partnership, Collaboration

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    Nigeria, UAE to Strengthen Partnership, Collaboration

    Plans are underway to further strengthen areas of partnership and collaboration between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    This was revealed during the visit of the Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa to the Embassy of UAE in Abuja, following the removal of the visa ban by placed on Nigeria by the Arab country.

    Dabiri-Erewa who was received by the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, Salem Saeed Al-Shamsi, stated that NiDCOM intends to engage and sensitise Nigerians in the UAE to be good ambassadors of their country of stay and country of origin, to excel in whatever they are doing and never to forget home.

    She added further “this initiative aims to foster better understanding and compliance with local regulations,” while disclosing that 190 Nigerians were repatriated to Nigeria, with an additional 250 expected to return soon.

    She said the actions of individuals in a host country could greatly impact the overall image of their home country, noting that the role of Western media imperialism in perpetuating negative stereotypes about Nigerians.

    The UAE Envoy on his part, explained that the visa ban on Nigeria has been officially lifted.

    He confirmed that the Visa on Arrival policy has been canceled for all countries, but assured that the new procedures are designed to facilitate tourism and ensure travelers’ safe return.

    The Ambassador expressed his commitment to providing the best possible services for Nigerians, with the support of the determined Nigerian government.

    He also acknowledged the UAE’s role in safely repatriating 96 Nigerians at no cost.

    Marking his one-year anniversary as the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, Al-Shamsi shared his positive impressions of Nigeria, describing it as a beautiful country with warm-hearted people who share similar cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds with the UAE.

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    UAE to Resume Issuance of Visas to Nigerians from Today—FG

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    BREAKING NEWS: UAE Considering Slashing Visa/DVN Fees for Nigerians

    The federal government has disclosed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to lift the travel ban on Nigerians from Monday, July 15, 2024.

    The Minister of Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr Mohammed Idris, told State House correspondents in Abuja today that both nations reached an agreement to allow Nigerian passport holders to obtain visas for travel to the country.

    Recall that about two years ago, the government of UAE suspended visa issuance to Nigerians following a period of protracted diplomatic row.

    Last year, the Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Media and Publicity, Mr Ajuri Ngelale, claimed that the travel ban was lifted until the Arab nation denied it.

    A few months ago, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Festus Keyamo, said efforts were being made to resolve the issues and ensure Emirates Airline resumes flight operations in Nigeria.

    It was stated that the Emirates would resume the Lagos-Dubai flights from October 1, 2024.

    Ahead of this scheduled flight resumption, Mr Idris said Nigerians with the green passport would now be issued visas by the UAE government.

    The Information Minister made the announcement after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held on Monday at the Presidential Villa.

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