Updated: February 24, 2021
The Nigerian foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama is on his way to Washington after the Trump administration announced it was imposing a total travel ban on immigrant visas for Nigerians. Immigrant visas are for permanent residents and are different from non-immigrant visas issued to visitors, students and the likes.
In a statement, the U.S. Department of State said Mr. Onyeama would be in Washington DC on February 3-4 with his interagency delegation for the 2020 U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission, but the visa ban would certainly come up.
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“The theme of this year’s BNC is “Innovation and Ingenuity,” which reflects the entrepreneurial, inventive, and industrious spirit shared by the Nigerian and American people,” the State Department said.
Established ten years ago, the Binational Commission is the premiere platform of engagement between Governments of the United States and Nigeria to expand cooperation and advance shared goals.
“Our delegations will discuss areas of strategic collaboration toward measurable progress, particularly in the areas of trade and investment, development, good governance, and security cooperation,” the State Department added.
That would certainly include the travel ban.
The Donald Trump administration announced on Friday it was issuing a travel ban on citizens of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar.
Citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan won’t be allowed to apply for visas to immigrate to the United States under the new policy for visas that can lead to permanent residency, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said during a call with reporters on Friday.
Wolf clarified that the targeted visas are distinct from non-immigrant visas issued to visitors, which will not be impacted by the ban.
The Trump administration said the new policy was designed to tighten security for countries that do not comply with U.S. minimum security standards or cooperate to prevent illegal immigration.
Citizens from Sudan and Tanzania will be barred from participating in the diversity visa lottery, the Trump administration said.
The European country of Belarus was dropped from the list of seven countries as previously reported.
The administration said investor visas, which lead to green cards, will also be barred.
But the DHS official said the restrictions will not apply to skilled foreign workers entering the United States on H-1B visas, even though such visas are temporary, but can lead to permanent status in the United States.
He said immigrants already in the United States, or who have approved visas will be exempt from the ban.
However, people with pending visa requests – some of whom have waited years – will be barred.
All applicants will be able to apply for a waiver, a process already in place under Trump’s existing ban. But a federal lawsuit challenging the administration claims the waiver process is opaque and difficult to navigate.
The visa restrictions will not apply to refugees, according to the official. Trump’s administration has separately capped the number of refugees allowed into the United States at 18,000 for the 2020 fiscal year, the lowest level in decades, a report noted.