US travel ban: Nigeria’s Buhari to comply with Trump’s new visa rules

Nigeria will work to fix security lapses that led to a US curb on immigration from the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.

US President Donald Trump and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari shake hands as they take part in a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 30, 2018, in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN
US President Donald Trump and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari shake hands as they take part in a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 30, 2018, in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN

Mr Buhari said he wants Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, to have “productive relations” with the US.

He has appointed a minister to lead a committee to “study and address” the new visa requirements.

Citizens from Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar are also barred from certain types of US visas.

People from these countries will, however, still be able to visit the US as tourists.

In 2018, the US issued more than 8,000 immigration visas to citizens of Nigeria – twice as many as all the other five nations combined.

That same year, just over 2,000 were issued to Sudanese nationals, 290 to Tanzanians, and just 31 to Eritreans.

“These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters on Friday.

The new US rules will come into effect on 21 February but will not apply to official, business and tourism visas, Mr Buhari’s office said in a statement on Saturday.

“Nigeria remains committed to maintaining productive relations with the United States and its international allies, especially on matters of global security,” presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said.

Mr Wolf said officials would work with the countries on bolstering their security requirements to help remove them from the list.

US President Donald Trump first introduced a travel ban in 2017. It currently closes US borders to citizens from seven countries, most of them with Muslim majorities.

The US had previously announced a ban on certain types of visas for Eritreans in 2017.

What are the new rules?

The US said it would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar.

Sudanese and Tanzanian nationals will no longer be allowed to apply for “diversity visas”, which are available by lottery for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the US.

Mr Wolf said non-immigrant visas given to people for temporary stays – including visitors, those doing business or people seeking medical treatment – would not be impacted by the new rules.

Kyrgyzstan and Sudan have large Muslim majorities, while around 50% of people in Nigeria and Eritrea are Muslim. Tanzania also has a sizable Muslim community.

What is the travel ban?

Mr Trump signed a controversial travel ban just seven days after taking office in January 2017, arguing it was vital to protect Americans.

The ban initially excluded people from seven majority-Muslim countries, but the list was modified following a series of court challenges.

It now restricts citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea.

While the government has suspended most immigrant and non-immigrant visas to applicants from those countries, exceptions are available for students and those with “significant contacts” in the US. BBC News