Immigrating From Nigeria to The United States

Learn the various pathways of immigration to The United States, including family-sponsorship and employment.

Interested in Immigrating to the USA from Nigeria?

Modern immigration from Nigeria to the US began in the mid-1900s, as many Nigerians came to the states in pursuit of educational and employment opportunities, along with economic stability. A large number of Nigerian immigrants came from the Igbo, Yoruba, and Ibibio peoples in the south. In the 1980s, an even larger wave of immigrants left Nigeria for the US to escape political and economic instability, seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

Nigerian Community in the US

Nigeria has the largest foreign born population in the US, with over 327,000 individuals. Texas, New York, and Maryland have the greatest number of Nigerians. Nigerian immigrants are one of the most highly educated groups in the US, translating to success and the highest levels of participation in the labor force among both the immigrant and native populations. Due to the large presence of Nigerians in the United States, a strong network of organizations exists to provide support for both newly arriving and already settled immigrants.

Immigration Process

Most Nigerian immigrants get their Green Card and become Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) as immediate relatives of US citizens, through family sponsorship , through employment , or by claiming refugee status. Note that "the US Consulate General in Lagos processes all immigrant visa applications in Nigeria" (http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ng/ng-iv-visaapplyinfo.html). As many Nigerian immigrants begin as students in the US, it may also be useful to understand the student visa process as a stepping stone to later achieving legal permanent residency.


Work Visa

The United States provides great economic opportunity for skilled workers in search of jobs, and the most likely way to obtain a Green Card is through employment in the US. Immigrant work visas include the EB-1 and EB-2 visas, and imply receipt of a Green Card soon after entry. Non-immigrant work visas are temporary, and individuals from Nigeria may be eligible for the H-1B, L-1, O-1, and E-1. If an immigrant comes to the US under a non-immigrant work visa and wishes to become a permanent resident, they may change their classification and apply for an immigrant work visa while in the states. Speaking to an immigration specialist is also helpful in determining eligibility, as well as which visa is right for each individual.

Family Sponsorship

Two categories of family-based visas exist: Immediate Relative and Family Preference. Each of these visas provide for unique application processes, so it is important to determine which one is most suitable for each individual’s case. Speaking to an immigration specialist may be helpful in determining one’s eligibility.

Useful Resources for Nigerians the US

  • The US Embassy and Consulate in Nigeria provides information on how to apply for a visa, as well as which visa is best for individual cases.
  • Nigerians in Diaspora Organization (NIDO) is a non-profit organization that focuses on networking and collaboration among Nigerian professionals in the US. It works to instill ethical consciousness and civic responsibility in order to effect positive change in Nigeria, as well as in the US.
  • The Nigerian-American Community Association (NACA) is a not-for-profit association that was founded to support and address the needs of the rapidly growing Nigerian immigrant community originally in New York, and now the entire US.

Local Organizations

Profession Specific Organizations

Interested in Immigrating to Canada from Nigeria? Many Nigerians have found Canada to be an attractive home with great opportunity. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/14/african-immigrant-population-in-u-s-steadily-climbs/

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