Nigeria looks to have U.S. travel ban lifted

According to Nigerian Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, the country has begun working on the security and information sharing requirements for the lifting of a U.S. travel ban on prospective immigrants.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Onyeama says Nigeria was ‘blindsided’ by the U.S. decision to add it and five other countries to an expanded version of the U.S. visa ban. 

U.S. President, Donald Trump issued an expanded version of his travel ban on Friday as part of a presidential proclamation which states that Washington would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria. 

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Temporary visas for tourists, business people, students and workers from those nations will not be affected, it states. 

U.S. officials say the countries failed to meet its security and information-sharing standards, which necessitated the new restrictions. 

“We’ve identified all those requirements and we had actually started working on all them,” Onyeama said. “It was very gratifying to come here, speaking to U.S. officials and to understand more clearly the reasoning behind this.” 

Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, is the biggest country on the list whose citizens will be suspended from U.S. visas that can lead to permanent residency. 

Pompeo also declared that Nigeria could do more in sharing important national security information, adding that he is ‘optimistic’ that Abuja will move in that direction. 

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Some of the areas are security measures taken with regards to passports and information about criminal histories and suspected terrorist information being made available. 

“With regards to lost and stolen passports, we’re putting in place the architecture that will now make that – the information and the data on that – immediately available to the U.S. and all the member states, member countries of Interpol,” Onyeama adds. 

The original travel ban, issued in 2017, barred nearly all immigrants and travellers from seven countries with majority Muslim populations. This was revised amid court challenges, but the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld it in 2018. 

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The new travel ban will take effect on Feb. 21, according to the proclamation. 

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