Trump’s visa policies in 2019 Hit Nigerians, Others Hard
By Jude Chukwuemeka
The travel measures taken against Nigeria by the United States last year are starting to have a clear and, potentially, long-term effect, as by the data collected from the US travel and tourism office.
The data shows Nigeria recorded the largest global drop-off in visitors to the US. As of October 2019, 34,000 fewer Nigerians traveled to the US compared to the previous year—a 21% drop. After a sustained period of growth between 2011 and 2015, the number of Nigerian visitors to the US started to plateau in 2016 until the big drop-off last year.
The second largest drop was for visitors from Venezuela (17.7%). The South American country is in the midst of an economic and political crisis which has seen more than four million people flee the country and the US is restricting entry to Venezuelan migrants.
After indefinitely suspending its visa interview waiver for Nigerian applicants (the waiver allowed frequent travelers renew their visa without going through in-person interviews each time), the Trump administration also raised visa application fees for Nigerians by including additional “reciprocity fees” ranging from $80 to $303 depending on the class of visa. And even though the Nigerian government immediately slashed visa application fees for American applicants in a bid to get the US to reverse its price increase, the reciprocity fees remain in place.
The dip in Nigerian visitors to the US followed a string of visa clampdown measures by the Trump administration targeting Africa’s largest economy.
The Trump administration was looking to impose visa restrictions on countries whose citizens have a track record of overstaying beyond the validity of their short-term US visas. As it turns out, Nigerians were the highest ranked African country for US visa overstays in 2018.
President Trump described Nigeria, Haiti, El Salvador and parts of Africa as “shithole countries” in a meeting with lawmakers in the White House in January, the Washington Post reported.
The report also claimed that Trump said he would prefer immigrants from Norway and other developed countries.