The European Union may impose restrictive visa rules on Nigeria if the country fails to play its part in the readmission of its citizens living illegally in the EU.
PUNCH quoted Virginie Battu-Henriksson, EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy, as saying though the number of irregular Nigerians entering the EU reduced last year, they still ranked among the top 10 nationals staying there irregularly.
Battu-Henriksson said the EU could make its visas more difficult for Nigerian applicants if the country failed to meet its standards.
She noted that in 2016, an EU council decision authorised the opening of negotiations on readmission agreement with Nigeria.
The agreement seeks to ensure that Nigerians travelling to Europe take only the legal routes and that Nigeria is also able to readmit its citizens living illegally there.
Battu-Henriksson said the strict measure could be adapting rules on processing short-stay visa applications.
“Nigerians still place among the top 10 nationalities detected as staying irregularly on the EU territory, although the number of Nigerians entering the EU irregularly declined drastically last year, “she was quoted to have said.
“Nigerian criminal networks remain active in Europe, and Nigeria remains the main non-EU country of origin for victims of trafficking (mainly women) registered in the EU.
“What the EU can do since new rules on short-stay visas to the EU became applicable on 2 February 2020, is to adapt the rules on processing short-stay visa applications, depending on whether a non-EU country cooperates satisfactorily on the return and readmission of their nationals staying irregularly in the EU.
“Under the new rules, the EU Commission will regularly assess the level of cooperation of non-EU countries on the readmission of irregular migrants. If the level of cooperation is insufficient, the commission, together with member states, can decide on a temporary more restrictive implementation of certain provisions of the visa code.
“This could have an impact on the processing time, the length of validity of the visa to be issued, the level of the visa fee to be charged and the fee waivers.”
She, however, said the measure would not amount to a visa ban but only allow for a more restrictive implementation of some visa rules.
“It is important to note that this mechanism does not amount to a visa ban and does not call into question the right to submit an application for a visa or to be granted a visa,” she was quoted to have said.
“It only allows for a more restrictive implementation of some of the visa rules. This concerns short-stay visas to the Schengen area, covering stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.”
In January, the US imposed an immigrant visa ban on Nigeria as a result of the country’s failure to comply with its established identity-management and information-sharing criteria.
In a statement after the ban, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the restriction became necessary due to America’s inability to verify a traveller’s identity and “assess whether they pose a national security or public safety risk”.
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