Laidlaw, who spoke when the U.S Consulate General in Lagos hosted journalists on a tour of consular facilities, said the mistakes usually occur when applicants are not able to provide convincing evidence about their social and economic ties to Nigeria and purpose of visit to the U.S.
He attributed their mistakes to wrong information provided by so-called agents that claim to have special information about how to obtain visas.
Laidlaw warned Nigerians against patronizing agents.
He said the visa application process was straight forward and all requirements provided on the consulate’s website.
He said: “As a member of the United States government, we make mistakes. So as you address people about their experiences, you have to tell them that sometimes the American government, the consular section office in Lagos and Abuja make mistakes. And we approach people that have been denied to apply for a visa again. There are very few times that visa ineligibility is permanent.
“The reasons why we make mistakes are those that have to do with visa services advising people to do incorrect things – that has to do with the way people present themselves and information to us.”
This notwithstanding, Laidlaw said visa issuance rates to the U.S are higher than denial rates.
Contrary to popular belief of high denial rates, Laidlaw said that non-immigration visas are issued about 60 per cent of the time.
“In actuality, the non-immigrant visa acceptance rate here is between 52 and 58 per cent. If we include the immigrant visas, we approve almost 70 per cent of our applications here in Lagos. So there is a lot of myth outside, mostly negative, about us. And it also reflects that there are several actors outside these premises in particular who are given bad information to the public,” he said.
He, however, also noted that Nigerians overstay in the U.S when they visit 67 per cent of the time.
Laidlaw spoke in response to questions about how Nigeria could be included among countries that enjoy visa waivers to the U.S.
He explained that one of the factors considered is the overstay rate. He said the overstay rate for the 21 countries currently on waiver list was less than three per cent.
“The primary criteria for visa waiver is that the overstay rate is less than three per cent. Nigeria overstay rate is 67 per cent,” he stated.