The Trump administration last week Friday added six countries to the nations facing stringent travel restrictions, virtually blocking immigration from Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, and from Myanmar, where refugees are fleeing genocide.
Beside Nigeria, varying degrees of restrictions will hit three other African countries, Eritrea, Sudan and Tanzania, and one former Soviet state, Kyrgyzstan. Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya could also be caught in the crossfire. The total number of countries on the restricted travel list now stands at 13.
Immigrant visas, issued mostly to foreigners intending to live in the United States, will be banned from Nigeria, Myanmar, Eritrea and Kyrgyzstan. The ban would prevent immigrants from Sudan and Tanzania from obtaining diversity visas. Homeland Security and State Department officials said some immigrants would be able to obtain waivers from the restrictions.
The proclamation, which President Trump was expected to sign on Friday, will take effect on February 22.
The administration has argued that the ban, enacted in 2017 to restrict travel from Muslim-majority countries, is necessary to ensure that countries satisfy security requirements for travel into the United States, or face restrictions until they do.
The expansion of the restrictions, which already affected more than 135 million people in seven countries, is likely to hinder more than 12,300 potential immigrants from resettling in the United States or reuniting with their family. The effect on Nigeria, not only Africa’s most populous country but also its largest economy, could be particularly severe.
A United States government official said the administration was adding Nigeria and Tanzania to the list because of the number of people who come from the African countries on a visa and end up illegally staying in the United States. The official said Sudan and Eritrea had not satisfied the administration’s information-sharing requirements.
President Buhari’s reaction
“On January 31, 2020, the United States Department of Homeland Security announced temporary travel restrictions on six countries, including Nigeria.
“For Nigeria, the restriction is the suspension of the issuance of ‘immigrant visas’ to Nigerian passport holders only.
“This suspension shall come into effect on February 21, 2020. The suspension does not apply to other U.S visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel.
“The DHS states the suspension of “immigrant visas” became necessary following a review and update of the methodology (performance metrics) adopted by the US Government to assess compliance of certain security criteria by foreign governments.
“This resulted in certain enhancements on how information is shared between Nigeria and the US.
“Nigeria remains committed to maintaining productive relations with the United States and its international allies especially on matters of global security. Accordingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has established a committee, to be chaired by the Honourable Minister of Interior, to study and address the updated U.S. requirements.”
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