By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The United States of America has refuted media report that the US had placed a ban on the two-year validity visa issued to Nigerians following the Executive Order signed recently by President Donald Trump.
An online news publication had reported that the US based on the policy of reciprocity as contained in the Executive Order would adjust her visa to reflect what she got in return from other countries.
The publication had reported that since Nigeria issues a one-year validity visa to US citizens coming into Nigeria, whereas the Us issues a two-year validity to Nigerians, based on the Executive Order the US would now have to adjust her policy to reflect what Nigeria issues to her citizens.
Reacting to the development Friday, in Abuja, US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington and Head of Consular, Meghan Moore both described the report as untrue and emphasised that nothing had changed as regards the issuing of visas to Nigerians.
According to Moore, the only thing that had changed was the renewal period. She said though the US visa policy was based on reciprocity, Nigerians would not be discriminated against it.
“It is important to note that there is not going to be any changes for Nigerians who have a valid US visa.
“The US government issues multiple-entry 2 years visa for Nigerians. The rumours that we are planning to change that to one year are not true.
“The main difference for Nigerians will be; you can use the DHL Dropbox renewal programme if your visa has expired within 12 months. But if it expired more than 12 months ago, then you will need to schedule an appointment for interview”, she explained.
Also speaking, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington said the new measure was to ensure the safety of Americans and those visiting the country.
He assured Nigerians that they would not be singled out for visa restriction because of their religious belief, noting that the American government did not discriminate on the basis of religion or race.
“The new order now is for the US government to cross-check as many that are coming into the U.S. before issuing visas.
“We will not discriminate on the basis of religion in issuing visas to Nigerians. The two years visa is still valid contrary to reports we have heard in the media”, he said, adding that, “Nigeria’s leadership role is crucial in the world and Nigeria cannot be blacklisted”.
The envoy stated that, the aim of the executive order was not to be used as a weapon to deliberately deny anyone a visa into the U.S.
He assured that people, who genuinely want to visit, live or work in U.S. would continue to do so while those considered as threat would be prevented from entering the US.
He added that the ban on the affected nations were temporary and would be lifted once a solid procedure to guarantee safety of the people had been put in place.
“We recognise that we are a nation of immigrants and a nation constantly seeking to bring diverse people together
“Our goal is to have in place a process that works. For everyone that applies for a visa, we should be able to find out the persons background as to where he has been before.
“The idea is to ensure that when we open the door to our house, that they are going in to do good and not to do harm,” he said.
President Trump signed an executive order that banned travel into the United States for citizens from seven countries for 90 days. The countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The restrictions were part of wide ranging immigration controls that also suspended refugee arrivals.