What is a Substitute Visa?
Countries come in varying sizes in terms of their population, landmass and economy. Not every country can afford to have a physical consular presence in the over 190 countries that exist today. One way some countries deal with this is the so-called Substitute Visa.
The principle is simple: the (usually smaller) countries are counting on the fact that the bigger country would have done some serious screening and due diligence before approving the visa. Thus, they rely on that face to allow easier access for holders of the said visas.
Substitute visas are typically only considered for multiple-entry and in some cases used but valid (not expired) United States (US), United Kingdom, European Union (EU) Schengen, Canadian, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Japan Visas or valid Resident Permits only. These are major economies of the world and between them have hundreds of Embassies, High Commissions or Consulates in just about every country of the world.
Do understand that the Substitute Visa does not always necessarily replace the national visa of the country you wish to visit. There are usually some other entry requirements. In some cases, it only allows you to proceed to the border of the country you wish to visit and allow you to apply for a visa at the destination airport.
In other cases, it allows you to apply for an e-visa before you depart. Either way, having a substitute visa does not automatically guarantee you entry to the destination country. It is usually the discretion of the Immigration Officer at the Border or Point of Entry to clear you for entrance.
Countries you can visit with a United States Visa
It goes without saying that you can gain entry to the US.
- United States of America
- US territories: US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam.
North and South America
- Mexico: a valid US (or Canada, Schengen, UK, or Japan) Visa or Resident Permit will allow you entry for up to 180 days.
Permanent Resident holders of Chile, Colombia and Peru also qualify.
- Belize: a valid multiple-entry US Visa or US Green Card or Canada or Schengen Visa will allow entry for up to 30 days.
- Costa Rica: a valid multiple-entry US (or Canada) Visa or Residence Permit will allow entry for up to 30 days. This also includes EU Resident Permit holders.
- Panama: a valid multiple-entry US (Schengen, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan, UK, or Singapore) Visa or Resident Permit will allow entry for up to 30 days; the Visa or Permit must still have 6 months validity and must have been used to gain entry into the country that issued it.
- Antigua and Barbuda: a valid US (UK, Schengen or Canada) Visa or Resident Permit only allows you to apply for a Visa on Arrival that is valid for up to 30 days. The Visa must have a minimum of 180 days validity at the time entry to Antigua and Barbuda is sort. The visa fee is US $100.
- Cuba: a valid US (or Schengen, UK or Canada) Visa or Resident Permit will allow entry for up to 30 days. The traveller must also hold a Tourist Card, in addition to other requirements. The Card must be obtained in advance.
- Dominican Republic: a valid US (or Schengen, UK or Canada) Visa or Resident Permit will allow entry for up to 30 days.
- Albania: a valid, multiple-entry US (or Schengen or UK) Visa or Resident Permit which has been used previously will allow entry for up to 90 days.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: a valid US (or UK, or Schengen) Visa or Resident Permit will allow entry for up to 30 days.
- Georgia: a valid US (or Schengen, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, UAE or UK) Visa or Resident Permit will allow entry for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.
- North Macedonia: a valid US (or Schengen, UK or Canada) Visa will allow entry for up to 15 days provided the said visa is still valid for at least 5 days.
- Montenegro: a valid US (or UK, Ireland or Schengen) Visa or Resident Permit will allow entry for up to 30 days.
- Serbia: a valid US (or UK or Schengen) Visa or Resident Permit will allow entry for up to 90 days.
- Turkey: a valid US (or Schengen, UK, or Ireland) Visa or Resident Permit only allows you to apply for an e-Visa before travelling, that is valid for up to 30 days.
- Qatar: a valid US (or Schengen, Australia, Canada, UK, GCC country or New Zealand) Visa only allows you to apply for an electronic Travel Authorization before travelling and then collect a Visa on arrival that is valid for up to 30 days. The Qatar ETA has other requirements aside from the above visa.
- São Tomé and Príncipe: will allow entry for up to 15 days with a valid US (or Schengen) Visa that still has a minimum of 3 months validity.
The following types of US Visas are typically considered as Substitute Visas:
- Tourist or Business Visa (B1/B2)
- Work Visa (L1/L2/H1/H4)
- Permanent Residency (Green card)
Countries you can visit with a Schengen Visa
By default, a Schengen Visa allows entry to 22 EU member states and four non-EU countries who are members of EFTA: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland as well as some other 4 countries who are joining the Schengen area: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania.
Most non-Schengen countries that allow (easier) entry to valid Schengen Visa holders also allow US Visa holders. As a result, they are already listed under the US category above and not repeated below.
- Andorra: doesn’t require a visa but entry to Andorra is only through France or Spain which require a Schengen Visa.
- Bulgaria: allows entry for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
- Croatia: allows entry for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, provided the Schengen Visa is valid for the duration of the stay.
- Cyprus: allows entry for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
- Kosovo: allows entry for 15 days.
- Monaco: doesn’t require a visa but entry to Monaco is only through France which requires a Schengen Visa.
- Romania: will allow entry for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. The valid Schengen Visa must be double or multiple-entry. Holders of valid Permanent Resident permits for UK or Ireland also qualify.
- San Marino: doesn’t require a visa but entry to San Marino is only through Italy which requires a Schengen Visa.
- Vatican City: doesn’t require a visa but entry to Vatican City is only through Italy which requires a Schengen Visa.
The following territories allow entry with a valid Schengen Visa for up to 30 days.
- Sint Maarten
|Antigua and Barbuda||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||–||–||–|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Yes||Yes||Yes||–||–||–||–|
|São Tomé and Príncipe||Yes||–||Yes||–||–||–||–|
This article assumes that the traveller does not hold the citizenship of another country or where they do, have chosen to travel on a Nigerian passport the specific trip.