By Gbenga Abulude
The United States government, on Wednesday said it is reevaluating its immigrant visa restriction that was imposed on Nigerians.
The American government said it is taking this decision having been satisfied with the country’s level of compliance with information sharing and other concerns.
Ambassador Mustapha Sulaiman, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed this while briefing journalists at the end of the inaugural meeting of the U.S./Nigeria Forum in Abuja.
Recall that in January 31, the United States announced that it was expanding its curb on immigration to include six more countries, including Nigeria.
Citizens fron Nigeria, Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar were blocked from obtaining certain types of visas, though people from the countries listed were still allowed to visit the US as tourists.
The measure was a result of failures by the six countries to meet US security and information-sharing standards.
Sulaiman at the forum noted that Nigeria had achieved almost 90 per cent of the requirements by the U.S. government which led to the ban on some categories of migrant visas which was imposed on the country in January.
He said the Nigerian government had put in a lot of efforts in meeting the requirements which was why the U.S government is reviewing the visa restriction status of the country.
“We have accomplished so much within a very difficult year, but essentially we want to acknowledge and put on record Nigeria’s response to the concerns by the United States government in respect of the immigrant visa restriction that was imposed on Nigerians.
“I want to say that we appreciate the acknowledgement and the commendations from the United States government in respect of this response.
“From the assessment of the recipient of our response, I think we have accomplished almost 90 per cent of the requirements that has been established in that regard.
“And I am sure that if you follow the information that has been passed on the level of compliance, for instance sharing of information, we have done so much in that regard.
“That is why I believe the U.S government is having the comfort to even reevaluate otherwise we wouldn’t have been candidates for reevaluation.
“If we have to rate ourselves, from what has been done so far, we should be about 90 per cent complaint.
“The consular forum was agreed on earlier in the year during the Bi- National Commission of the United States and Nigeria which was held in Washington January, February and that agreement is what is coming to push now.
“We have just had the maiden consular forum meeting today and I want to put it on record that it has been a very successful meeting with various issues that were discussed,” Sulaiman said.
Sulaiman commended all stakeholders that have worked towards Nigeria earning the commendations and the need for a reevaluation especially the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and the U.S Embassy in Nigeria.
He added that the forum will serve as a platform where both countries can progressively improve on bilateral relations and address concerns for the benefit of citizens.
U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Mary Beth Leonard also commended Nigeria on the progress made in information sharing and other concerns raised by the U.S government which led to the ban.
Leonard explained that the Presidential Proclamation enjoins the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to prepare a report addressing the measures that have been taken which is then submitted to the White House for reevaluation.
She noted that contrary to reports, the ban Presidential Proclamation did not mean that no Nigerian could ever enter into the U.S.