Any non-Nigerian interested in starting a business in Nigeria is required to first register a business with a minimum share capital of N10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira). Then the company on incorporation must apply for Expatriate Quota (EQ), this is because every business that wishes to employ a foreigner is expected to get the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Alien Card (CERPAC).
The EQ is an approval granted by the Minister of Interior Affairs to indigenous and foreign-owned companies to allow them to employ foreign employees who legitimately work and live in Nigeria. A business Permit would normally be processed with an EQ in the case of a wholly owned foreign company.
Once the EQ status has been successfully obtained the company then move to process a Subject Regularization (STR) Visa for all its expatriate’s staff. The essence of this application is to allow the staff to obtain the CERPAC which allows them to live and work in Nigeria.
The EQ does not automatically grant CERPAC except that it might serve as a short-term stay during the pendency of an application to renew the CERPAC.
The success of being granted EQ permit depends on several factors including: (a) the nature of the business, (b) duration and (c) how relevant the position of the expatriate will be to the success of the company. An EQ permit is valid for three years and may be renewed, it can also be amended to including additional staff as the company needs.
The EQ has to be renewed by the company before the expatriate can renew their CERPAC. The requirements for the renewal of the Expatriate Quota include the following:
In the specialized sector of the economy, such as the petroleum sector, the regulatory body responsible for the supervision of employment within that sector works in collaboration with the Minister of Interior to regulate the employment of expatriates in the sector. For example, within the oil and gas space, the minister carries out the function through the Nigerian Local Content Development Board (the BOARD). Applicants are required to get the approval of the Board in the form of a “Certificate of no objection” before applying for the expatriate quota.
Companies are instructed to training Nigerian citizens so that in the long run the Nigerians can take up the positions instead of the expatriates. This in effect will reduce the unemployment situation of the country and avail indigenes the chance to gain requisite abilities.
It is important to be aware that member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are exempt from obtaining CERPAC, provided that the citizens of member countries have register with the service as nationals of ECOWAS.
The measures put in place for the processing and obtaining an expatriate quota permit to ensure doing business in Nigeria is easy for foreign investors.
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