By Matilda Coleman -
Lagos, Nigeria – Ikenna is in trouble. On the one hand, the holder of the green card of the United States has been advised not to travel outside the United States for a year to avoid the risk of not meeting the eligibility criteria for citizenship.
On the other hand, his newly married wife in Nigeria cannot visit him. I had applied for a tourist visa days before the US UU. It suspended a "mailbox,quot; procedure in May 2019 that allowed frequent visitors to resubmit an application without being subjected to the interview process, but their request was denied.
The health professional said they told his wife that, since she was married to a permanent resident, he should file an immigrant visa application on his behalf. As such, Ikenna quit her job in the capital of Nigeria, Abuja, and moved to the United States in late July to begin the process. Meanwhile, your spouse applied for a business visa in October in vain.
And now things have become even more complicated.
Last week, the White House said immigrants from Nigeria and five other countries will no longer be eligible to obtain visas that allow them to live in the United States permanently, expanding their controversial travel ban policy.
A presidential proclamation on January 31 cited Nigeria's breach of security and information exchange requirements, and its high risk of "terror,quot; to the United States as reasons for imposing the restriction.
"I applied for your (immigrant visa application) in November and now the ban has been announced," says a frustrated Ikenna. "I have been a beneficiary of the long, tedious and nebulous process to obtain my permanent legal residence, and now I am experiencing the same process to obtain a visa for my wife."
He remains unconvinced about the ban, arguing that nonimmigrant visa applicants were less analyzed and therefore posed a further threat to US security. UU. That those who applied for immigrant visas.
"The (United States government) is not only punishing Nigerians," he said of travel restrictions, scheduled to take effect on February 21. "They are punishing American citizens," he added, referring to the thousands of other Nigerians who process immigrant visas for their immediate relatives in Nigeria.
That feeling also sounds true for Chienye, a product marketing manager who is currently applying for an immigrant visa for her mother in Nigeria. He feels that the ban is unfair and infringes his rights as a US citizen.
"Melania Trump herself used the same immigration method to bring her parents to the United States," he said of the country's president, Donald Trump. "That is one of the luxuries of being a citizen. You can extend that and bring close family members to accompany you here."
Citizen since 2018, Chienye, 37, says he was excited to bring his mother, since he never visited him in the 15 years he has lived in the United States, first in Minnesota and then in the states of Washington. It was something he hoped to change now that he had financial solvency to pay for his trip.
"My mother is getting older and I want to bring her here to relax and enjoy, even for a few months."
While nonimmigrant visa applicants are not affected, the Nigerian student Onyinye is concerned about the effect of the ban. The mother of two is completing her nursing prerequisites in Maryland.
"I don't want a situation where I have to renew my documents and I can't because of the ban," he said, speculating about the possibility that the US government unofficially limits the number of student visas issued to Nigerians. "I just don't want to be undocumented here."
In 2018, Nigerians were granted a total of 7,922 immigrant visas, the second highest among African nations. More than half of that number was for immediate relatives of US citizens.
Incidentally, after the increase in the visa fee and the suspension of the Drop Box interview exemption application last year, nonimmigrant visa applications declined by 21 percent.
Approximately 30,000 Nigerians exceeded their nonimmigrant visa in 2018, making them the third largest delinquent behind Venezuelans and Brazilians, according to data from the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security. UU. Some insist that this may have informed recent restrictions. Others argue that the ban is a ploy to further reduce the number of Nigerians who come to the United States.
"I think the Trump administration is trying to limit immigration from black and brown countries," Chienye argued, adding that the majority of Nigerians in the United States are educated and dismissing the security reasons cited for the measure.
"The only reason Trump is banning Nigerians is that he doesn't want black immigrants in the United States, and Nigerians represent a large part," he said.
For Onyinye, the right to live and work legally in the USA. UU. It replaces the possibility of acquiring long-term citizenship. And although she considers herself fortunate that her husband and children live with her, she wishes she could bring her mother.
"If that is not possible, I will have to work harder to visit Nigeria and see it more frequently," he said before acknowledging that the ban could prevent him from re-entering the United States.
"Until that clears up, I guess there are no trips for me."
According to immigration lawyer Leila Mansouri, who has handled cases for Iranians and Iranians affected by the 2017 Muslim ban that restricted travelers from Iran and other Muslim-majority countries, the text of the recent travel ban is unclear if Nigerians with immigrant visas are prohibited from applying for permanent residence.
"Depending on how he handled it (the U.S. government) For the Iranians, I think (the Nigerians) who are already in the U.S. will be able to naturalize or marry and adjust their status," he said, adding that those who leave the US UU. They could find It's hard to get back in.
Last week, the Nigerian government announced that it had established a committee to address the updated requirements. On Tuesday, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama appeared at a joint press conference in Washington with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, stating that Nigeria had been "surprised by the announcement of restrictions on visa,quot;. He maintained, however, that the country was in the process of complying with the demands and had already
"checked most of the boxes,quot;.
"Basically, security measures were taken with respect to electronic passports (and) lost and stolen," Onyeama said, adding that Nigeria was working to make data from the United States and Interpol member countries available. the aforementioned and information on suspected terrorists. "soon,quot;.
Like many in Nigeria and the United States, Onyinye hopes that both countries will reach a resolution.
"I think the ban will be only for a short time," he said.