The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) says it is automating passport application process to reduce the stress and delay Nigerians experience while applying for passports.
NIS Acting Comptroller General, Caroline Adepoju, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Thursday, said the Service is trying to eliminate human interface in the process of passport application.
“One thing Nigerians know about the Nigeria Immigration Service is the issuance of the Nigerian passport and we know the number of Nigerians that have applied for passports in the past two years have been very high and unprecedented,” Adepoju said.
“But be that as it may, the service is working hard to ensure that we meet the expectations of Nigerians. Number one, we are automating our passport application process; we are trying to ensure that we cut out human interface.
“Our applications are available online and we are trying to sensitise our applicants that they should go online for these applications to avoid patronising louts,” Adepoju said.
The Acting Comptroller General, however, reminded Nigerians that because the passport is a security document, it will take some time before they are issued, adding that there are a number of processes like carrying out security checks, address verification, among others.
She advised Nigerians to always start passport renewal application six months before expiration, adding that fresh applicants don’t need to wait till they need the passport to start application.
“So, I try as much as possible to let people know that if you are renewing your passport, don’t wait until it is completely expired. You can start your application process when you have six months validity on it. Then for fresh applicants, they don’t have to wait until the very last moment when they need the passport,” she said.
Adepoju said that for a fresh application, it takes six weeks to get the passport ready, while it takes three weeks for renewal.
She said that considering the crowd in the passport offices at the moment, the Service is making effort to ensure that applicants for passport renewal don’t need to come to the offices since their data have already been captured.
“Presently, considering the crowds in our passport offices, I’m trying to put up a memo to the appropriate quarters that something should be done about renewal as it is done in other climes.
“Once we have your data, we should be able to renew your passport by online application without necessarily going into the passport offices; that will reduce the crowd. So, visiting passport office will be left to only fresh applicants who need their data to be captured,” Adepoju stated.