Deserving Nigerians Will Be Issued Visas, US Envoy
By Mfon Udo-Ema
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, has said that the Executive Orders signed recently by US President Donald Trump, does not significantly affect Nigerians who want to visit the US, pointing out that deserving Nigerians will be issued visas to visit the US. He spoke at a press briefing in Abuja last week, to explain the importance of Trump's Executive Order and how it affects Nigeria and Nigerians. The Executive Order, which temporarily banned nationals of some dominant Muslim countries, has since been stood down by the US Appeals Court.
According to Amb. Symington, "Security is not the job of only one country. Let me reassure Nigerians that every single action the U.S. takes would be based on legality and due process. Protecting America from terrorists would not affect the two year visa validity policy currently enjoyed by Nigerians or cause them to be discriminated against based on their religion"
Recognizing that the United States is a nation of immigrants and the unique diversity which makes up Nigeria, Symington added that "no place has opened its doors to people more than the U.S. We haven't said we have closed the doors and locked it, what we said is that we are going to take a pause, conduct checks and ensure the safety of the people in our country and the efficiency of the process."
According to U.S. Bureau Census data, Nigerian immigrants have the highest education attainment level in the United States, surpassing every other ethnic group in the country and the impact of a Trump ban could not be over emphasized considering the strategic U.S.-Nigeria relations which dates back to 1960 following Nigeria's independence from Britain.
Elaborating on the issue, Meghan Moore, the Consular Chief at the US Mission in Nigeria, stated that the goal is to facilitate legitimate travel to the United Sates which is important for trade, education and family ties.
Said she: "We issue two-year multiple entry visas to Nigerians based on reciprocity from Nigeria (how the Nigerian government treats American travelers to Nigeria) and this has not changed; there is no plan to change that validity policy to one year though there may be some exception based on specific individual cases. No one would be discriminated against based on their religion or Islamic names and neither would any valid visas be revoked".
Moore however added that the only thing that has changed is the duration for visa renewal. Nigerians with certain visa classification like the B1/B2 (tourist) visas are still eligible for the interview waiver renewal program but only within 12 months of expiration via the DHL Dropbox. Applicants who are unable to renew their visas within 12 months of expiration would have to schedule an appointment for in-person interview.
Contrary to popular believe that most applicants are denied visas, Nigerians were issued a total of about 150 thousand visas out of the 10.9 million nonimmigrant visas issued globally according to a 2015 Department of State data, a 10 percent rise from the 9.9 million visas issued in 2014.