WASHINGTON has outlined several conditions that must be met for it to consider lifting the current visa issuance restrictions placed on Nigerians pointing out that the ban introduced last month could be rescinded once security is beefed up.
Last month, the US added Nigeria to the list of countries whose citizens are banned from applying for visitor US visas, saying that the country is one of those that exports terrorism. In a move that had been pending for a while, the Trump administration added Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania to the list of countries on the US visa travel ban.
Certain to affect commerce and hit VIPs who travel to the US hard, the ban is being contested by the Nigerian government who say it was unnecessary. As diplomatic efforts intensify to get the restrictions rescinded, the US has given the federal government conditions under which it could be reviewed, pointing out that once Nigeria improves her data intelligence, it would be easy to investigate any immigrant wishing to visit.
Speaking yesterday, while paying a courtesy call on labour minister Dr Chris Ngige, Mary Leonard, the US ambassador to Nigeria, explained that the immigration policy does not affect people currently resident in the US. However, she added that it applies to fresh visa applicants but once more data is available, so they can be screened, the US will consider lifting the restrictions.
Ms Leonard said: “I think I need to clarify something for you here. The immigrant visa ban does not affect people who are currently resident in the US and it does not cancel the status of anyone currently in the US.
“What Secretary Pompey said was something that was meant to be temporary and it is about problems with information sharing which are investigable, achievable and resolvable and we look forward to Nigeria in a very short while being able to meet those information-sharing goals so that the decision can be reviewed. Students’ visas are not affected by the current visa ban either.”
On diversification, she said there was a need for Nigerians with skills to export them so that they will not be seen as illegal immigrants when they go abroad to work. Ms Leonard added: “You know Nigerians are so well known at home and abroad for their industriousness, so I wonder how you think about capturing that entrepreneurial spirit and bringing it into the formal sector in service and to enhance employment.”