Visa ban: Nigeria, US open discussion tomorrow in Washington

February 2, 2020
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THE decision by the United States government to impose visa ban on Nigerians seeking immigrant visa from the US Embassy is expected to top agenda at the 2020 Binational Commission of the two countries opening tomorrow in Washington D.C, the US capital.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, is leading a delegation of other ministers and officials to the two-day meeting.

According to a statement posted on the website of the US Embassy in Nigeria, the delegation will discuss areas of strategic collaboration towards measurable progress, particularly in the areas of trade and investment, good governance and security cooperation.

Preparatory to the meeting, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard and Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, met at the US Embassy last week to discuss “strong partnership” ahead of the meeting.

According to statistics, 15 per cent of Nigerians overstayed business and visiting visas to the country in 2018.

In a related development, the Federal Government has set up a committee headed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, to review and update the requirements the United States government said were not in place which caused it to place visit restriction on some Nigerian passport holders.

This was revealed in a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), which noted that the restriction affects immigrants visa alone and does not apply to other U.S visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel.

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The statement explained that the suspension of immigrant visas became necessary following a review and update of the methodology (performance metrics) adopted by the US government to assess compliance of certain security criteria by foreign governments.

It said the committee would work with the US government, INTERPOL and other stakeholders to ensure all updates are properly implemented.

The statement read: “For Nigeria, the restriction is the suspension of the issuance of “immigrant visas” to Nigerian passport holders only. This suspension shall come into effect on 21st February 2020. The suspension does not apply to other US visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel.

“The Department of Homeland Security states the suspension of “immigrant visas” became necessary following a review and update of the methodology (performance metrics) adopted by the US government to assess compliance of certain security criteria by foreign governments.

“This resulted in certain enhancements on how information is shared between Nigeria and the United States.

“Nigeria remains committed to maintaining productive relations with the United States and its international allies especially on matters of global security.

“Accordingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has established a committee, to be chaired by the Minister of Interior, to study and address the updated US requirements.”

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