I have started this series on general visa enquiries to discuss the common challenges the average Nigerian faces when making visa applications in Nigeria and the steps for a successful visa application. My contribution is based on my personal experiences and that of people close to me and some information I will be sharing on this platform, I ignorantly paid a lot of money to obtain them. I also invite you to share your experience to help others.
Many visa applications are rejected not necessarily because of the suitability of the applicants, but sometimes because of simple errors in the application itself or its presentation. You may have genuine intentions and still be denied a visa to your desired destination. As an unmarried lady with a Nigerian passport, I have experienced my own fair share of denial.
Over the years, I had to build my travel records in order to earn the so called ‘eligibility’ status to be granted a visa to some countries. This came at a cost to me.
I patiently developed my travel history from countries with less strict policies to the countries with the stricter policies.
I have identified common mistakes we make and my opinion on the possible solutions to them. You can share yours here to help someone out there. My focus will be on non-immigrant visa category.
I cannot stress enough the importance of making a good first impression. This goes beyond physical appearance. Just like a curriculum vitae, the first impression the interviewer has of you is what you put on paper, so you should focus on your strengths. Do not leave room for doubt. You need to realize that the interviewer is not your friend and will look for reasons to reject your application.
If your application is made to a country where a physical interview is not required, then you owe it to yourself to attach as many documents as you think can support your application. I remember my first visa application to the UK, I even attached photocopies of my tenancy agreement with my landlord, receipts of advance payment of rent and my car purchase receipt just to prove to them that I had a home and life to return to. I went for an over-kill. Lol
It is important to show that you have enough ties to bring you back home. Ties here refer to a job, family, business etc.
An important aspect of your visa application is proving to the interviewer that you will not need any public funds during your stay in the proposed destination. They must be convinced that based on your income, you can afford to pay for your trip and still have enough to survive on.
A lot of visa applications are rejected because of this single reason. Common mistakes people make is to arrange to have huge funds deposited to ‘inactive’ accounts prior to their visa application without any explanation on the origin of the funds. This definitely would raise doubt as the interviewer may not be convinced that such funds are available to you.
The trick is to develop your financial records for a period not less than 6 months to reflect constant inflow and outflow of funds. If you have a salary account, then this is 50% solved. If you make additional income from other businesses, then you should allow these payments reflect in the statement of account you tender to support your application.
And NO, you do not need millions in your account to qualify, you just need to establish that you earn a regular income and you can afford to finance your trip. I know of someone who was granted a visa with only N10,000 (Ten thousand naira) in her account. As a business woman and a frequent traveler, her financial records showed enough activities to convince the interviewer that she was able to pay for her trip and therefore was not considered a ‘risk’.
Your application may require that you provide an estimate of the cost of your proposed trip, including tickets, accommodation and feeding. For the avoidance of doubt, you should be able to show that you have these funds available and have held same in your bank account for a specified period.
Tell the truth:
Okay… you may say “I told the truth before and I was still denied a visa”. Well, remember these people are psychologist and are trained to decode your game. It is always better to err on the side of caution. Some countries can ban you from making visa applications for a period up to 10 years if discovered that you perjured yourself. The thing about lying is that you must be consistent with the lie, but the truth… The truth has one version so my advice is, BE HONEST!
I talked about magnifying your strengths and eliminating your weaknesses; you should try that instead.
Avoid talking too much and giving unnecessary information.
Appear confident but not arrogant. Instead of lying, examine your weak points and prepare a suitable response to them. I always rehearse for my interview days before my scheduled appointment. I create my questions and quiz myself.
Avoid cramming as nervousness may cause you to forget your lines… Lol.
I talked about this in my post ‘The Solo Traveler’, if you missed it, read it here. You should be able to convince your interviewer that you have an itinerary and you have acquired adequate information about the country you intend to visit. Imagine attending an interview in a company without acquiring information on the business of the company or checking out their website. You have to show that you want it.
To find out how to obtain a Schengen Visa read here.