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Moses Obroku: The Myth About ‘Virgin’ Passport

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Repetition is all it takes for a lie to take root and become accepted as the truth. I have heard so many untrue positions pushed forward regarding the whole travel chain. These are especially in relation to first-time applicants for visas. It also applies to those embarking on a trip for the first time after such visas are secured.

The ridiculous statement I often hear centers on the need to do something about the so-called ‘virgin’ passport. By that they mean a passport that does not yet have any visas or entry/exit endorsements to demonstrate the holder is a veteran traveler. Nothing can be further from the truth.

People have built unfounded theories around visa procurement. This is such that, the otherwise simple routine official procedure, has now attained legendary status. It breaks my heart when I see highly educated Nigerians, fall victims to the antics of some visa racketeering tout. Thereby permanently complicating their travel chances.

A self-proclaimed ‘visa agent’ would advise potential applicants about the need to prove they had traveled to some ‘smaller’ countries. All that is in the preparation of approaching the United States, United Kingdom or some other European countries’ Embassies or High Commissions for a visa.

These agents sell the idea that, such travel histories usually sway visa officers in approving applications to those aforementioned countries. They consequently arrange for counterfeit visas and entry/exit endorsement stamps to be placed on such blank passports. These facilities proudly declare the applicant had passed through Seme border post all the way to Ghana and back. Many times, without challenging such lies, unsuspecting applicants readily allow their passports to be riddled with such endorsements by these agents.

Needless to say, those counterfeit endorsements and phantom visas, are nearly always found out by keen-eyed document forensics officers, and their sophisticated equipment at those embassies.
Oh, by the way, passports found out to be such are usually impounded. Thereby bringing further complications to the travel desires of countless applicants.

I have studied the tendencies of many Nigerians regarding visa applications and international travel generally. I can comfortably say that most people are too lazy to bother to fill visa applications themselves. They are also not diligent enough to seek counsel from the right places at the right time. People eventually get wise after their passports have been impounded due to regulations infringement. It is only then they start asking the right questions and running everywhere for a solution to otherwise preventable situations.

Many times, embassy officials in Nigeria get invited to the media to explain what they consider before visa issuance. But as sincere and open as those sessions go, it still beats my imagination why applicants end up getting guidance from some roadside ‘agents’. The so-called agents have probably never applied for visas themselves their entire lives! And I hear they charge no small fee for those phoney consultations they provide. Perhaps, people are so used to getting things the hard way. The simple legitimate way to apply for visa now looked too easy to be true.

The ‘virgin’ passport myth is further taken to departure periods when visa holders are traveling. Different airport officials try to squeeze gratification from hapless naive passengers traveling for the first time. In the past, some people had been delayed from embarking on their trips on the pretext of this so called ‘virgin’ passport. And as docile as some passengers can be, though they know this myth is a creation of some criminally minded officials, they often pay up just to be on their way. I do not know what really accounts for this docility.

The truth is that majority of Nigerians are unduly tolerant and unwilling to challenge situations that are purely illegal and irrational. Sometimes, I do not blame such passengers though. The process of squeezing money from them can be harrowing. A few who have stood their grounds have however prevailed over such wicked rackets.

My cousin recently travelled to the United States. That was his first visa ever, and the trip was his first foreign trip. He is in his early thirties and single. (These details are deliberately mentioned to debunk other sub-myths about what category of people are usually issued visas) After dropping him off at the airport on the day of his departure, I watched from a distance as he went through the check in procedures. Although I could have pulled some influence and taken him by hand to the boarding gates, I decided to let him go through the process without assistance. That was so he can begin to gather his own first-hand experience crossing international frontiers.

Before finally departing, he called to say some officials at the restricted area had brought up that ‘virgin passport’ nonsense. He was promptly asked to ‘settle’ and avoid getting delayed. Another official saw from the bank stamp on his passport that he had collected $4000 dollars as PTA (Personal Travel Allowance). After comparing that sum with the nearly $2000 he had on him, he was informed it was a ‘financial crime’ not to travel with the entire amount collected for PTA.

Those officials did not know he had been thoroughly briefed on all he needed to know about international travel. They also did not know he is a lawyer himself. If they did, they would have realised they had the wrong ‘first-time traveler’ to squeeze. He handled them well by himself, and of course, they let him go. He did not even get to the lawyer part before he was allowed to go. One final fact unknown to them was, had they delayed him over imaginary offenses, his big angry brother who could pull rank was just waiting in the shadows to emerge.

I have had front row view of the mythical opinions people hold about international travel. They are mostly from my personal experiences obtaining different types of visas and numerous travels. My professional involvement in handling visas and passports also account for my knowledge base. I can confidently say those myths are usually spun by mischief makers who wish to feed on the gullibility of applicants. Frankly, the statistics of people that fall prey to such scams are alarming. I have seen whole families including babies, have their passports impounded and any prospect of future travels halted over this ‘virgin’ passport issue.

Let me make it very simple in clear terms:

  1. It is true that a good travel history may improve your chance of getting issued a visa. That is because it shows you are not a migrant, having returned from earlier foreign trips. However, it does not guarantee you would be issued the new visa applied for, as each application is considered on its merit.
  2. Applying for a visa with a blank passport is not an offense anywhere in the world. Everyone with a rich travel history started with a first visa.
  3. The United States, United Kingdom and indeed all other perceived ‘choice’ countries of the world, do not require applicants to demonstrate they are not migrants by visiting ‘smaller countries’; before applying for their own for visas. This is a lie from scam artists.
  4.   Prior multiple visits to the United States, do not automatically guarantee you will be re-issued a visa applied for. Your present circumstances must show you intend to return to your country of origin after your proposed visit.
  5. You may be issued or denied the visa applied for after an aggregate of factors must have been considered. Believe me, your blank passport is the least of such factors.
  6.  If you allow visa touts plaster counterfeit entry/exit endorsements all over your passport any time; I guarantee you your passport shall get impounded.
  7. At the airport, do not allow anyone intimidate you to part with money because you are a first-time traveler. It is not an offense anywhere in the world that you are traveling for the first time.

Finally, for God’s sake, there is no such thing as ‘virgin’ passport. The term is repulsive to civilized people and I personally find it offensive.  A word as we all know is enough for the wise.

Photo Credit: Kadettmann | Dreamstime.com

Aside from being a lawyer, migration management expert, security personnel and fitness buff; there are many other sides to me. I am also a self -proclaimed foodie (and oh yes, to complement that, I can cook!). Of course, writing is my passion and I have a mission to inspire my world, one person at a time. I can be reached on [email protected] Instagram: @mosesobroku

33 Comments

  1. Mrs O

    May 19, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Thank you Moses, this is such a huge sigh of relief. People have been so gullible and have fallen prey to touts. I just applied for my first passport at 28 and when I travel I sure will not be one of those gullible first time travelers.

    • osa

      May 19, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      Virgin passport is not a myth. A person in nigeria who has travelled beyond the shores of africa with visa etc has much higher chances of getting a usa or uk visa than someone with a virgin passport. That is not to say someone with a vjrgin passport cant be issued a us visa.
      Dont let this writer mislead you to visa refusal. I don’t see the validity of his argument

  2. Funmi

    May 19, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Thank you for this article. I am sharing it now to everyone i know, it is shocking how some “civilised” people fall into this horribel situation.
    It all boils down to laziness to make the enquiries themselevs and fill out their application form.

  3. chux

    May 19, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Thank you for your insight analysis Moses.
    I am an example,cause i got my US visa with a virgin passport and as a single guy.
    The visa interview was as easy as having an ice cream.
    You must be involved in every aspect of the visa process.
    You must be bold and outspoken.
    Ignore anything called “invitation letter”.
    That only work for old people (Grandparents)

    • Emmanuel

      March 2, 2018 at 2:45 pm

      please bro contact me on 07038683394

  4. Mar

    May 19, 2017 at 11:04 am

    This sincerely drove me mad! I had the same issue with my parents last when we were planning for them to come to my wedding in Northern Europe. Virgin passport this virgin passport that. Even though I was explaining carefully to them that it didnt matter. Thank you for this article, although, could you do a short summary, 250 words, we could whatsapp broadcast it to all our parents 😀 (Let them taste their own medicine) 😀

    • Zinay

      May 19, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      Your parents send you broadcasts too? I have changed my whatsapp number because of them. No more!

  5. bolintin

    May 19, 2017 at 11:08 am

    I remember when in 2010 wished to apply for a UK visa and a friend told me to bring 40,000naira to first get a ghana visa and border stamp on my passport before proceeding to apply for the UK visa.

    I really may have considered it then but then my take home after all deductions was just about 60,000naira so why would anybody want to take a whole 40,000naira when i was not even sure i will get the visa. Abeg Uk no be by force o. i dey gbadun my life even with my 60,000naira salary.

    eventually i told my sister who lived in the UK and she rubbished my friend’s proposal and simply advised that all the UK embassy needed to see was the truth. I should avoid lying about anything and simply give them sufficient information; dont over proof anything.
    Gbam that did it.

    Since then I have traveled everywhere with that same passport without any issues.

    • Fear God...

      May 19, 2017 at 11:26 am

      Do you even need a visa to go to Ghana from Nigeria? Aren’t we all ECOWAS countries? That should have been your first hint that they were trying to con you

  6. Israelo

    May 19, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Very apt and Informative!

  7. Tony Benson

    May 19, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    I’m just here thinking of what age I would eventually get to travel to “the abroad”, if even at 31. I’ve ever only been Nigerian bound. It’s not so much as wanting to travel for the sake of it (Well maybe that one sef dey), but I want to really have and taste that foreign experience….I love my country too much to want to go abroad and stay forever, so I’m not one of those guys who want to go for and rack up years for green card.

    Ohh did I also mention that even though I’ve been to roughly 5 states in Nigeria, I’ve never boarded a plane? “shedding tears”….So I even still have to break this local barrier sef before I think of travelling abroad (by plane of course). The thing is I’ve not just genuinely had any reason to travel inter-state by plane either for work or leisure…..But I want to do so this year….If anybody wants to be my first time “by plane” travel partner…I’m available sha…..I wee pay, don’t worry….ohhh and you must be a lady and single with a good sense of humour, just the cheery, happy go lucky kinda girl..

    How did I manage to turn this post into a pseudo-match making one…,Lol. Just imagine. But I’m serious,, I want to travel by plane to any state in Nigeria before the end of the year. I don’t just want to do it alone because I don’t even know where to begin.

    #rantends.

    • The MatchMaker

      May 19, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      Where are you based Tony?
      Dm me on IG @thematch_maker

    • olabisi

      May 19, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      hi Tony, my email address is [email protected]. We can be friends.

    • Ebeben

      May 19, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      Would love to make that trip with you if you don’t mind. I haven’t been on a plane either. So I you’d really pay, then I’d be glad to go with. So mail me wassup! Let me come and be going with my #longerthroat sef.

    • Adenike

      May 20, 2017 at 9:00 pm

      I’m willing and available to travel by air, it’ll be my first time too and I qualify based on the stated requirements. *widegrin*

    • Adenike

      May 20, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      Hey, I’m willing and available to travel by air…would be my first time too.

    • E.b

      May 22, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      Hi tony, you can email me at [email protected]. this would be my first time of traveling by air too.

  8. To be fair

    May 19, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Having a U.K. Visa made applying for visas to the US, China and Malaysia a breeze. fair is fair.

  9. Honiilols

    May 19, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Very rich and informative Moses. I must say a timely piece too, I for fall victim ??

  10. J

    May 19, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    There are always exceptions to cases where people with genuine intentions are not given visas like everything human.
    That’s why people contest their decisions sometimes and subsequently have the previous decisions revised and visa issued accordingly.

  11. Ajala & Foodie

    May 19, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    But no be only “virgin” travelers those airport people dey hustle ooo. I am always excited about visiting home but when I think about my return journey I.e from checking luggage and going through customs it makes me weak. Anthony Joshua vs. Klitschko got nothing on the battle one has to do with this people, if you decide to go to war with them.

  12. Miss Caroline

    May 19, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Your brother sounds intelligent and smart, oh well! How about 2 single people hookup?
    *wink*

  13. Xplorenollywood.com

    May 19, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    I love the part where you spoke about the fact that most of these touts haven’t traveled, cos truth be told, they havent! I recall when i went in for my SA visa, i had the VFS attendant insisting that i needed more money in my account than what was on the statement. I’m like what? I told him point blank, what is important that there is money going in and out of the account, asides one that shows a lot of cash and no withdrawals what so ever. Ended up getting the visa. I think another one that baffles me is, when they ask if you get the visa? Like what is your business though? Just another means to poke their nose into your business and render unsolicited help you do not need. kmt

    Please be careful and always ready the requirements on their website.

  14. Anonymous

    May 19, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you Moses Obroku………. You’ve spoken so well on the issue of getting Visa and it’s well appreciated.
    I like to share my own testimony and experience to confirm and support what you’ve shared to us.
    I am a lady of 40 and above when i applied for a Canadian Visa, which everyone believe and says it is the most difficult Visa to get.
    Apparently, i have never traveled out of the Country before July 2014 as a matter of fact, I’ve never boarded a flight before then. ” Smiling”.
    However, i got an offer to travel to Canada for Summer from my brother and his wife, this actually called for processing.
    I have no Passport at all, so the processing started form applying for International passport.
    The International passport was applied for in April 2014, and was ready in May,
    I proceeded in applying for my Visa from early May, it took 40 working days and to the glory of God Almighty, i was granted a Canadian Visa. I got the Visa on virgin passport.
    Less stress, age was not a barrier, status was not a criteria, qualifications was not priority.
    Sincerely, it doesn’t cost me anything than, doing the right processes and submitted the genuine, necessary document with fervent prayer. Till today people keep asking how i did it.
    i want to use this means to tell people that it doesn’t cost a whole lot of stress to get Visa, it’s as easy as 123, ABC, just be sincere.
    Thank you.
    Anonymous

    • Agbako Paul

      October 21, 2018 at 11:51 am

      the fact that it work for you that way does not mean other people it did not work out for did not apply with the right documents. you were just fortunate , that’s all.. stop preaching

  15. [email protected]

    May 19, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Well written Moses. I am so sharing this. My family is so entrenched in this lie that my uncle sent my sister $1000 to go on a trip to Dubai just to have a stamp on her passport. Sharp girl invested the money in her business. [email protected]: I will like to ask you some questions. @Tonybenson: hit me up when you want to make that trip. I will take you through the process, although it’s no biggie. Just choose an interesting city, or do I choose?

    • Agbako Paul

      October 21, 2018 at 11:47 am

      the reason Canada refused me visa was stated clearly, ‘NO TRAVEL HISTORY’

  16. olabisi

    May 19, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    hi Tony, my email address is [email protected]. We can be friends.

  17. Kemaj

    May 20, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    The idea of paying for virgin passports was likely conceived from travelling by road within the Ecowas states. I have had to travel to Ivory Coast before by road, at the boarder the custom official told me my passport was new. In this case please note that the newness of the passport was judged based on the fact that it was my first time entering Abidjan. At the time it had visas for USA and the UK. I was nice enough to explain that I have been to Abidjan before but by air on another passport booklet. Believe it or not I was delayed for over an hour until I parted with something (though not up to a third of what was initially requested.) So if you are a first time air traveller with this kind of experience by road why will u not believe the lies from scamlike agents. Truth is we need to demystify travel in this part of the world. It should be seen as what it is ( mostly leisure exercise) and not a status symbol announcing your “arrival”

  18. Bobosteke

    May 20, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Well written, articulate and informative. Not your usual BN fare. Hope to read more from you, Moses.

  19. Adenike

    May 20, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    Hey, I’m willing and available to travel by air…would be my first time too.

  20. Emmanuel

    March 2, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Danm this post is so encouraging thanks for the advice so much please drop me your no please urgently needed 07038683394 is mine

  21. Agbako Paul

    October 21, 2018 at 11:45 am

    i totally disagree with you, the reason Canada refused me visa was stated clearly, ‘NO TRAVEL HISTORY’

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