Nigeria seeks U.S. immigration clarity, advises against non-urgent travel

Nigeria advises its citizens against any non-urgent travel to the United States until Washington clarifies its immigration policy, following several incidents of people with valid visas being denied entry.

LAGOS, NIGERIA (MARCH 7, 2017) (REUTERS) – Nigeria advised its citizens on Tuesday (March 7) against any non-urgent travel to the United States on until Washington clarifies its immigration policy.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, said the advice was issued after several incidents in which Nigerians travelling with valid visas were denied entry to the United States.

“It’s just advisory to let Nigerians know it’s happening anywhere although we are not on the list and don’t forget that the revised travel ban talks about countries of concern. It can be anybody,” Dabiri-Erewa said adding that Nigerian Foreign Ministry was not advised on the reasons why the entry was denied.

She said Nigerians without urgent need should “consider rescheduling their trip until there is clarity on the new immigration policy”.

Dabiri-Erewa said the most recent case was that of a man traveling to Atlanta for a wedding who was detained for almost 11 hours before being sent back to Abuja although he flew from Lagos.

The West African country is not among a group of Muslim-majority countries from which President Donald Trump wants to suspend travel to the United States on security grounds. About half of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslim, and half Christian.

At the United States embassy in Nigeria’s commercial city Lagos a photographer who takes passport photos for applicants said that the number of his clients went down.

”It has really really changed because I won’t lie to you the number of people that I snapped last week you know, they were up to like 25, 30 people you know, but this week I won’t lie to you I have not gotten up to like 10 people today,” said the photographer, Victor Obot.

Halima Benjamin, Abuja based businesswoman said it was unfair to be turned back after the hassle of arranging the trip and paying for the tickets.

“Some people have criminal records you understand? Maybe they look into those kind of issues and they get to turn people back but if people are turned back innocently like those who have clean records, they don’t have any criminal case, I think it’s not fair,” she said.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed a revised executive order on Monday (March 7) banning citizens from six Muslim-majority nations from traveling to the United States but removing Iraq from the list, after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts.