Africa: Hope Rises for air travelers as Nigeria initiates efforts to resolve Visa restriction with US

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The Nigerian government has disclosed that it is making efforts to resolve the issues that led to the suspension of the issuance of the United States of America’s (USA) immigrant visas to Nigerian passport holders.

According to signaturetv.org, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thurday August 13 disclosed this while receiving the report of the committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonisation chaired by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola in Abuja.

According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari expressed delight that two out of the six areas of concern raised by the United States had been fully addressed.

The suspension, which came into effect on February 21, 2020, however, does not apply to other US visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel. Commending the committee for its patriotic diligence in carrying out the assignment, Buhari assured Nigerians and the international community of the timely implementation of the committee’s recommendations after due consideration.

‘‘I also note the progress made by Nigeria towards the removal of the visa restrictions as two out of the six areas of concern raised by the United States had been fully addressed, two are substantially satisfied while some progress is being made on the remaining two.

‘‘I am delighted that this progress, especially the uploading of Lost and Stolen Passport and Travel Documents has been acknowledged by the United States Government,’’ the President said.

The committee had, among other things, recommended establishment of a National Criminal Information Management, fashioned after the INTERPOL model, and a National Criminal DNA Laboratory, to aid criminal investigation, administration of criminal justice as well as sharing of relevant information.

Buhari noted implementation of these and other far-reaching recommendations as articulated in the Report will fully address all outstanding issues that led to the visa restrictions.

The President also pledged commitment to sustaining the follow-up for removal of the visa restrictions by the United States and developing a credible and harmonized National Identity Data Management System.

He recalled that the Federal Government’s response to the temporary visa restrictions placed on Nigerian citizens by the United States in January this year, led to the setting up of the Committee to review the restrictions and develop systems and processes that would address the security concerns raised.

It could be recalled that in January 2020, The US said it would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar. However, they could apply for other visa categories. The US had 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.

While speaking to newsmen, Comptroller-General of the NIS, Mohammed Babandede said the new Nigerian visa policy is reciprocal in nature, adding that like the US, Nigeria has the right to dictate who it allows in or restricts from entering the country.

“I can tell you that US is a country, it is a nation like Nigeria. They have the right to restrict who will enter their territory or not just like we can restrict US citizen or whomsoever from entering Nigeria,” Babandede said.

He further added, “So they have the right, but I want people to know that visa restriction is not a visa ban, it is a ban for people who want to take residency not people who want to go for short visits.

It could also be recalled that atqnews.com posted a story about United Arab Emirates denying restricting Nigerians from travelling to their country.

The country, in a statement posted on its embassy Twitter account in Nigeria, said it made this clarification after reports surfaced on social media concerning the issue.

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