Comments by Sanwar Ali:
Trump is perhaps too willing to put restrictions on African Countries. Security concerns have been used as an excuse for a more wide ranging ban on "black immigration" from Countries such as Nigeria. It is one thing to prevent entry of individuals who have behaved in an unacceptable way. It is quite another to have a more wide ranging ban on immigration. Trump has referred to African Countries as being “shithole Countries”!
Amid ongoing election-related activities in Nigeria, the US has hit the African nation with further visa restrictions, the US State Department has announced. In recent years, the Trump administration has imposed several sanctions on Nigeria, accusing some individuals of ‘undermining the democratic process.’
The individuals in question, who were not named, have had restrictions imposed on them ‘for their actions surrounding the November 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa State elections and in the run up to the September and October 2020 Edo and Ondo State elections,’ said the US State Department.
Spokeswoman for the State Department, Morgan Ortagus, said: “These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and have undermined democratic principles.”
Details of the latest restrictions have not yet been disclosed, but are set to follow in due course.
E1 and E2 visa sanctions
In the summer of 2019, Workpermit.com reported that Nigeria faced US E1 and E2 visa sanctions because of attempts made by some Nigerians to undermine the African nation’s general election in February.
In 2018, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari had met with Trump to discuss the possibility of expanding visa validity for Nigerians entering America from two to 10 years.
The latest round of sanctions adds to a long list of restrictions imposed on Nigerians since Trump became President. In 2017, hundreds of Africans – including Nigerians - applying for US B1 and B2 visas to attend the annual African Global and Economic Development Summit held in California, had their applications rejected.
In 2019, the US State Department warned Nigeria that there would be further action, including more visa restrictions, on those found to be responsible for orchestrating election-related violence or undermining the democratic process in Nigeria.
Last year, Ortagus said: “The decision to impose US visa restrictions on certain Nigerians reflects the Department of State’s commitment to working with the Nigerian government to realize its expressed commitment to end corruption and strengthen democracy, accountability, and respect for human rights.”
Other US visa categories restricted
The latest round of sanctions could see Nigerians hit with even tighter restrictions and greater scrutiny on US B1 business visit visas, B2 holiday visit visas, L1 intra-company transfer visas, H1B specialty occupation visas, E2 Treaty Investor visas, E1 Treaty Trader visas and other types of US visa.
However, Trump’s continued ‘targeting’ of Nigerians has drawn criticism, with many arguing that it’s causing fear and generating fake news. Nigeria has become a target of Trump visa restrictions mainly because Nigerians have a high US visa overstay rate.
Under the Trump administration, thousands of Nigerians have reported that access to US visas is harder than ever. Many claim that their US visa applications are often rejected, which dissuades them from applying again… at least until Trump is no longer President.
The latest visa restrictions on Nigerians come as huge blow, given that back in February US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said he was ‘optimistic’ that the US could lift existing restrictions imposed on the African nation. However, the latest State Department announcement has seemingly quashed hope that restrictions will be lifted any time soon.
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