News Analysis

Implications of United States Travel Ban on Nigerians

From the twenty-first of this month, the United States of America will stop issuing certain types of visas to Nigerians and some citizens from five other countries.

The U.S said it would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar.

Acting US Homeland Security Secretary, Chad Wolf, while making the announcement, said other nationals from Sudan and Tanzania will no longer be allowed to apply for diversity visas, which are available by lottery for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The new measures were the result of failures by the six countries to meet United States security and information sharing standards.

The main reason Nigeria is suspended is due to non-availability of a credible background investigation system that will enable United States’ relevant agencies to verify status of Nigerians coming to the country as permanent residents.

United States began placing travel ban on nationals of some countries in 2017, after President Donald Trump signed a travel ban executive order.

According to president trump, the travel ban became necessary to end various insecurity challenges facing Americans on their soil.

The travel ban only affects Nigerians wishing to travel to the states as immigrants, while other Nigerians can still apply for tourism, students and business visas.

What this means is that the restrictions apply to immigrant visas for people who intend on living in the US permanently, including spouses or family members of US citizens, family members of permanent residents, or workers holding advanced degrees, among others.

In 2018, over eight thousand immigrant visas were issued to Nigerians, which is twice the immigrant visas issued in five countries in that year.

Since the announcement of the travel ban, Nigerians have been expressing mixed reactions to the development, while the Federal Government had set up a committee to look into the matter, with a view to fixing the security lapses that led to the ban.

According to the Presidency, the committee will study and address the reasons for the travel ban, as Nigeria remains committed to maintaining productive relations with the United States and its international allies, especially on matters of global security.

While this step of the Federal Government is commendable, as it will further redeem the image of the nation, there is still more the government at the centre needs to do.

Thousands of Nigerians do apply for US immigrant visas on a daily basis, to seek greener pastures, however, granting eight thousand immigrant visas alone to Nigerians in 2018 calls for great concern.

 Most of those applying for immigrant visas are wealthy Nigerians and seeking to relocate as residents to another country will one way or the other affects the nation’s economy.

The ban on issuance of immigrant visas to Nigerians could be a blessing in disguise for the country. 

As a family applying for an immigrant visa, millions of naira will be required to process such visa, and it is not one hundred percent certainty that the visa will be issued to such applicants.

In fact, some Nigerians have been turned back at the port of entry into the United States and this had resulted into psychological trauma for some of those affected.

Government needs to take more concrete approaches to the numerous challenges confronting the country, which have also been the reasons for the exodus of people out of the country. 

Some Nigerians are not willing to travel out of the country, but a second thought of factors militating against businesses thriving in Nigeria made them relocate to the United States.

Nigeria has a large percentage of citizens in the United States, as Nigerians are the most educated immigrant community in America, and seventy seven percent of black doctors are Nigerians.

Furthermore, the ban will make those who intended to apply for immigrant visas to apply for other categories of US visas, as it is certain that United States’ decision for the travel ban will not be achieved.

 Therefore, the Federal Government-led committee must work round the clock to make sure it meets the demands of the United States so that the temporary restriction is lifted, as most of Nigerians who migrated to the United States are now downcast as they will be unable to airlift their family members from Nigeria when the ban takes effect later this month.

Olaolu Fawole

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