Posted by By Paul Ohia and Gboyega Akinsanmi on
United States Embassy in Nigeria yesterday shed more light on factors that determine issuance of visa to Nigerians.....
United States Embassy in Nigeria yesterday shed more light on factors that determine issuance of visa to Nigerians, explaining that it does not discriminate on the status of Nigerian citizens seeking to travel to America.
The embassy also dismissed perceptions that some applicants were being denied visas because they had delivered or wanted to deliver children in the United States.
Counsellor for Consular Affairs of the US Embassy, Mr. Alan Latimer, made this statement in the US Consulate General, Public Affairs Section, Broad Street, Lagos, stressing that "this perception about the US process of visa issuance is unfounded and incorrect.
Latimer who spoke during an interactive session with newsmen that the US mission did not discriminate against any sect, race, gender and ethnicity before issuing visas to qualified applicants from Nigeria.
He said: "It is the function of US mission in Nigeria to issue visas to visiting travellers. We do not allow cultural, racial and ethnic differences to enter into the process, but strictly rely on law and procedure.
"We consider employment status, family relationship, economic and financial background of each applicants before visas are issued.
To confirm this depends on the extent to which the can convince us. So there is no indication of discrimination as claimed," he said.
Asked whether government officials and politicians had been denied visas based on the reports from Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), he said two prominent Nigerians had denied, stating that "the US mission has robust relationship with all institutions in Nigeria."
Consul General, Mr. Brian Brown added that there was no US Consulate policy stating that a certain class of people should be denied visas.
He said the assertion was wrong and incorrect, but the applicants in most cases failed to complete their visa application with due care and accuracy.
Brown maintained that: "The policy of the United States Mission in Nigeria is to issue visas for business or pleasure to qualified Nigerians. This does not mean that everyone who applies for a visa is entitled to one.
"All the application for visitor visas to the US are determined based on the qualifications of the individual applicant. Under US immigration law, applicant is presumed to be an intending immigrant, and thus, not eligible for non-immigrant visa," he stated.
Quoting from Section 214 (B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Consul General pointed out that it is within the ambit of this statute that the issuance of visas is based without bias and discrimination.
He reiterated that the act is so important to the process of visa issuance because it recognises the fact that "every applicant shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he/she establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officers at the time of application for a visa, and the immigration officer, at the time of application for admission, that he/she is not entitled to a non-immigrant status."
He said the law placed the proof of the burden on the applicants to prove that they have strong ties to their country and place of residence that would compel them to leave the US at the end of the temporary stay.
"If the applicant cannot demonstrate sufficient tie to Nigeria, that applicant has not proven himself qualified for a visa. This is the legal foundation upon which our visa adjudications are based," Brown said.
He emphassised that "the US policy requires us to adhere fully to pertinent laws and regulations regarding visa issuance. We can neither subtract nor add to the law. Our mandate is to administer said law fairly.
"Against this background, the perception that applicants are being denied visas solely because they have delivered children in the United States is regrettable and unfounded. Under US visa law, having children in the US does not constitute grounds for ineligibility for a visa.
"Thus, there is no US Consulate policy, either formal or informal, to render this class of people ineligible for visa. Any assertion to the contrary is incorrect and unfounded," the US Consul General stressed.
Also speaking in the forum, Vice-Consul, Ms Amy Lillis said more than 900, 000 Nigerians apply for visiting visas alone with the time frame of a year.
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