Visa ban: US gives Nigeria conditions for review of policy


The United States (U.S.) government has given Nigeria conditions under which the recent visa policy affecting six countries, Nigeria inclusive, could be reviewed.

Mrs. Mary-Beth Leonard, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, announced the conditions during a familiarisation visit to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Leonard said the policy would be reviewed once Nigeria improved its data intelligence, such that it would be easy to investigate any immigrant wishing to visit her country and meet information sharing systems.

The U.S. recently declared that it was expanding its curbs on immigration to include six more countries, including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

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The development meant that citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar would be blocked from obtaining certain types of visas to the U.S.

“I think I need to clarify something for you here, the immigrant visa ban does not affect people who are currently resident in the United States. It does not cancel the status of anyone currently in the United States.

“What Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, said was something that was meant to be temporary. And it is about problems with information sharing, which are investigable, achievable and resolvable.

“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.

“Also, student visas are not affected by the current visa ban,” she said.

On the diversification policy, Leonard said there was need for skill set of Nigerians to be effectively harnessed and internationalised, such that they would not be seen as illegal immigrants when they go abroad to work.

She said: “I think, for Nigeria, you have interesting story about diversification of your economy and prosperity of your economy and its people. You know Nigerians are so well known at home and abroad for their industriousness.”

She, however, called on the Nigerian government to capture the entrepreneurial spirit in the informal sector by bringing it on board the formal sector to enhance employment in the country.

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Ngige, however, noted that the immigrant visa ban by the U.S. was impunity.

He noted that Nigeria had over 70 per cent of professionals who migrated to the U.S. for the betterment of their skills.

“This includes medical doctors, engineers, ICT, among others, who are resident in the U.S., and when the U.S. government gave the ban, it came to us as a rude shock that their legal status would be cancelled.

“I will want to say that Nigerian professionals over there are highly qualified to have their visa status resident over there,” he said.

Ngige called on the U.S. government to assist Nigeria to build schools in areas where child labour was endemic in the country.

“We have done a total of 14,000 labour inspections, out of which we detected about 3,900 child labour defaulters and we have empowered them economically and encouraged them to go to school or learn skills,” he said.

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