The US said it would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar. Sudanese and Tanzanian nationals will no longer be allowed to apply for “diversity visas”, which are available by lottery for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the US. Mr Wolf said non-immigrant visas given to people for temporary stays – including visitors, those doing business or people seeking medical treatment – would not be impacted by the new rules.
According to US government statistics, the State Department issued 8,018 immigrant visas to Nigerians in the fiscal year 2018. Kyrgyzstan and Sudan have large Muslim majorities, while around 50% of people in Nigeria and Eritrea are Muslim. Tanzania also has a sizable Muslim community.
Trump had announced his intention to lengthen the list of countries last week on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. “We have to be safe. Our country has to be safe,” he said. Trump repeatedly promised during his election campaign to implement a complete ban on Muslims entering the US, and he announced his first package of travel bans and restrictions shortly after taking office in January 2017.
The move outraged critics and was struck down by a federal court that ruled the ban amounted to religious discrimination. The administration moved a second ver But the third version of the policy was upheld by the US Supreme Court in June 2018 in a 5-4 ruling that affirmed the president had broad power to set immigration policy based on national security justifications. The countries covered under that version are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and North Korea, and political officials from Venezuela. The administration argued the inclusion of non-Muslim majority countries proved the policy was not driven by religious animus.
Nigerian nationals will no longer be allowed to immigrate to the US. United States President Donald Trump’s administration has added six countries to the list of those whose citizens are subject to travel restrictions to the US. Citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar will not be allowed to apply for certain visas to the US, though they will still be able to visit as tourists. The travel restrictions will not affect those who already have US visas.
The restrictions are said to be country-specific, depending on the “deficiencies” identified during the review process and an assessment of travel-related “risks”.
US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting secretary Chad F. Wolf said in a statement: “The new restrictions imposed by the President are less restrictive than the existing restrictions. Like the seven countries that continue to face travel restrictions pursuant to Proclamation 9645, the six additional countries added for restrictions are among the worst performing in the world; however, there are prospects for near-term improvement for these six countries.
“Each has a functioning government and each maintains productive relations with the United States. In each case and consistent with those restrictions imposed in 2017, the President has imposed specific travel restrictions to mitigate the risks posed. The restrictions imposed by this proclamation reflect the U.S. government’s greater confidence that these countries can make meaningful improvements in a reasonable period of time.” If expectations are met, Trump may remove travel restrictions, if not, additional restrictions may be added.
Travel restrictions were imposed on Burma for failing to comply with the established identity-management and information-sharing criteria. Citizens of Burma will not be allowed to immigrate to the US. Eritrea was penalised for the same failure, and its citizens will also not be able to immigrate to the US anymore. The same restrictions apply to Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.
In August last year, the US embassy in Nigeria announced that visa application fees for non-immigrant Nigerians had been increased. The fee is now charged in addition to the non-immigrant visa application fee, which all applicants will pay at the time of application. Those whose application is denied will not be charged the fee.
The embassy said at the time: “Visa issuance fees are implemented under the principle of reciprocity: when a foreign government imposes additional visa fees on US citizens, the United States will impose reciprocal fees on citizens of that country for similar types of visas. Nationals of a number of countries worldwide are currently required to pay this type of fee after their non-immigrant visa application is approved.” According to the US embassy, the total cost for a US citizen to obtain a Nigerian visa is higher than the total cost for a Nigerian to obtain a US visa and the additional fee would eliminate the cost difference.
The US government has announced new immigration restrictions on six countries citing security concerns. The Department of Homeland Security will suspend visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria. Sudan and Tanzania will also stop receiving “diversity visas” – a process that awards green cards to countries with low immigration numbers to the US. Travel restrictions have been in place on Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen since 2017. Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo reports from Washington, DC.
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