By VICTOR NZE
With reports of visa denials at the United States embassy and also rejections at the country’s ports of entry involving Nigerians since the announcement of an Executive Order on travels by President Donald Trump, a new data has emerged which exempts residents of the Nigeria from a list of top countries with the highest U.S visa refusal rates in the world.
According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of State, residents of these affected countries have a harder time obtaining the travel documents to the United States more than Nigerians do.
While citizens of the Central American nation, Cuba, registered the highest refusal rates of 81.9 per cent among B visitor visa applications for tourist or business purposes to the United States, African countries like Mauritania (71.5 per cent), Liberia (70.2 per cent) and Gambia (69.9 per cent) followed closely.
Other African countries include: Ghana, 65.7 per cent; Burkina Faso, 65.4 per cent; Somalia, 63.9 per cent; Guinea, 63.5 per cent.
Statista’s figure which is for 2016 also placed residents of Afghanistan (73.8 per cent) as ranking second on the U.S visa refusal list.
Of the six Muslim-majority countries on Trump’s travel ban, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Libya and Sudan, only Somalia had the highest rejection rates (around 65 per cent).
To acquire these visas, people must prove “nonimmigrant intent,” and show they have both the intent and the funds to return home.
Earlier last month, President Trump issued a revised travel ban placing restrictions on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States like a similar executive order he signed in February, this was also blocked by a federal court judge.
Immigrants made up nearly one-fifth of the total U.S. workforce in 2014, or about 27.6 million workers out of 161.4 million. About 19.6 million workers, or 12 per cent of the total workforce, were in the U.S. legally (and 8 million illegally).
Roughly 10 per cent of unauthorized immigrants have been granted temporary protection from deportation and eligibility to work under two federal programmes, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status.
Matters in Nigeria had come to a boiling point when early last month the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had to refute claims suggesting that Nigerians with valid visas and documents were denied entry into the United States, maintaining that there are no reports of Nigerians being turned back at any US airport.
His position followed a warning issued by Special Assistant to President Muhammad Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa to Nigerians on travels to the United States.
Dabiri-Erewa had earlier said there were complaints by Nigerians with valid multiple-entry U.S visas being denied entry and sent back to Nigeria at U.S airports, and subsequently advised Nigerians who have no compelling or urgent reason to travel to the U.S to postpone their travel plans until the Trump administration’s policy on immigration was clear.
However, Onyeama, countered, insisting that any source of genuine information relating to Nigeria on the foreign scene can only come from the Presidency or his Ministry, adding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not gotten any information of the sort from the Nigerian consulate in US.
According to him, Nigeria is not among the countries currently under US travel ban as both countries enjoy cordial bilateral relations, even as he urged Nigerians to dismiss Dabiri-Erewa’s advice.