WASHINGTON has said it is re-evaluating its ban on some categories of migrant visas for Nigerians having been satisfied with the country’s level of compliance with information sharing and other concerns.
In January this year, the US said it would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar. Among other things, the US has also introduced reciprocity fees for Nigerians thereby nearly doubling the cost of obtaining a visa based on the premise that Americans seeking Nigerian visa were paying too much to secure it.
In response, Nigeria was considering reciprocatory visa restrictions on Americans visiting the country. However, there have been diplomatic moves behind the scenes trying to get round the impasse and yesterday, Mustapha Sulaiman, the permanent secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs, revealed at the end of the inaugural meeting of the US/Nigeria Forum in Abuja, that progress is being made.
According to Mr Sulaiman, the forum will serve as a platform where both countries can progressively improve on bilateral relations and address concerns for the benefit of citizens, He added that the US is reviewing the ban on Nigeria because the country has met almost 90% of the requirements set by the American government.
Mr Sulaiman said: “We have accomplished so much within a very difficult year but essentially we want to acknowledge the recognition and put on record Nigeria’s response to the concerns by the United States government in respect of the immigrant visa restriction that was imposed on Nigerians. I want to say that we appreciate the acknowledgement and the commendations from the United States government in respect of this response.
“From the assessment of the recipient of our response, I think we have accomplished almost 90% of the requirements that have been set in that regard. I am sure that if you follow the information that has been passed on the level of compliance, for instance, sharing of information, we have done so much in that regard, which is why I believe the US government is having the comfort to even re-evaluate, otherwise, we wouldn’t have been candidates for re-evaluation.”
Mr Sulaiman commended all stakeholders that worked hard to ensure that Nigeria made appreciable progress to earn the commendations from especially the Nigerian Immigration Service and the US Embassy in Nigeria. Mary Leonard, the US ambassador to Nigeria
commended Nigeria on the progress made in information sharing and other concerns raised which led to the ban.
She said that contrary to reports, the Presidential Proclamation did not mean that no Nigerian could ever enter into the US. Ms Leonard added that the US has reviewed the federal government’s report on information sharing and us inspired by the strides that Nigeria has made to improve access to stolen and lost travel documents.