By Joan Nwagwu
The United States (U.S.) government has given Nigerian government 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, gave the conditions during a familiarisation visit to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on Tuesday in Abuja.
Leonard said that the policy will be reviewed once Nigeria improves her data intelligence, such that it would be easy to investigate any immigrant wishing to visit her country and meet information sharing systems, the ban might likely be reviewed.
It would be recalled that the U.S recently announced that it is expanding its curbs on immigration to include six more countries, including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.
This development means that citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar will now be blocked from obtaining certain types of visas.
“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 States, 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 goal so that the decision can be reviewed.
“Also, students visas are not affected by the current visa ban,” according to her.
On 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 added “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 on board into the formal sector service to enhance employment in the country.
The minister however said that the immigrant visa ban by the U.S was impunity.
Ngige noted that Nigeria has over 70 per cent of Nigerian professionals who migrated to the U.S for the betterment of their skills.
“This includes the 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 residence over there,” he said.
Ngige however called on the U.S government to assist Nigeria to build schools in the areas where child labour is an endemic in the country.
“We have done a total of 14,000 labour inspection 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 added.
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