Nigerians In US Cry Out Over Visa Crises

By Myke Uzendu

Nigerians resident in the United States have cried against flawed visa process, questionable visa contracting arrangements, tedious biometric process, scarcity of visa stamp and passport booklets in the Nigerian high commission in US. They demanded for the suspension of the exclusive contract given to OIS to process all visa applications in the US and also reintroduce old practice of five years passport renewal previously done in five days.

They further urged federal government to allow automatic visa on arrival for Nigerians traveling home on foreign passports. In letter made available to Daily Times by Emmanuel Ogebe, Managing Partner, US Nigeria Law Group, Washington DC, he pointed out the consequences of the inefficient visa process, stating that Nigerians resident in the United States have contributed towards the development of the economy, urging government to address the situation especially as Nigerian in US are making plans to return for end of year celebrations.

Parts of the letter reads, “I write to convey to you a critical emergency with regard to the visa situation in Nigeria’s diplomatic missions in the US brought to my attention by affected citizens. The resulting system failures are endangering the well being of thousands of Nigerians who are planning to travel to Nigeria for the upcoming Christmas holiday and couldn’t possibly have happened at a worse time.”

Ogebe noted that the Nigerian government recently consolidated visa processing to one independent contractor who will the entire 50 states of the US which houses about one million Nigerian citizens. “This negates the very purpose for having consulates in New York and Atlanta which are major population centers for Nigerians in Diaspora.

“Indeed during Vice President Osinbajo’s town hall meeting with Nigerians in Diaspora in October last year, citizens in Houston asked for a consulate there as well. Rather than bring government closer to the people, this action has taken government and consular services farther away from them,” Ogebe stated.

The document also queried the rationale behind assigning visa processing to a solitary company that have proved incompetent and does not be the capacity to keep personal data confidential. “It is clear that this organization neither has the capacity nor geographic footprint to properly serve the needs of visa applicants in the US. “Worse still, the identities and personal data of applicants will now be in the hands of unknown private individuals,” he stated.

Ogebe also pointed out that the biometric process for visa issuance is cumbersome as applicants have to travel long distances for biometric capture. “This is not only an onerous but an absurd situation that will only cause more hardship on citizens and potential investors.

It should be noted that while citizens had to travel for passport biometrics, they had the option of three US locations (Atlanta, Washington and New York) to go to. if they couldn’t travel, the fall back option was to apply for a visa which didn’t require their physical presence. This current situation has deprived Nigerians of affordable visa application options without needless travel.”

Ogebe insisted that the company charged with the visa management lacks capacity and is overwhelmed with the volume of application received each day. He added that the process is plagued with non availability of passport booklets and visa stamps, which is scandalous and paints the country in bad light. “There are reportedly few passport booklets or no visa stamps for issuance even if all the above dysfunctionalities were addressed. This is scandalous, outrageous and unacceptable on any level.

“Citizens are asking for the globally recognized identity and nationality tender.This is the most basic of services every country must render to its” He maintained that Nigerians in Diaspora remit billions of dollars into the economy annually. “In 2015, the amount remitted to Nigeria was $21 billion projected to rise to $22 billion this year making Nigeria the 6th largest beneficiary of Diaspora remittances in the world.

“Nigerian Diaspora remittance exceeds Nigeria’s annual national budget (which is even a deficit budget requiring loan-financing) “Nigerian Diaspora’s $22 billion capital infusion into the Nigerian economy this year at $1=N360 is much more valuable than in the 2015 injection of $21 billion at $1=N197.

“Nigerian Diaspora remittance helped stabilize the economy from capital flight occasioned by looting, recession, and investor disinvestments.” He argued that Nigerians in Diaspora provide alternative dollars source from tourism, and the country’s largest non-oil forex earner. He also pointed out that diasporans have no voting powers, saying that they should at least be disallowed basic travel documents.


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