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The Implications of the New US Visa Restrictions on Nigeria

It has been a few days running that rumours filtered into the media that the United States government could be considering more visa restrictions against Nigeria.

Ever since the Trump administration was inaugurated in 2017, its policy on Africa and Nigeria particularly has been that which critics would refer to as being ‘hostile’. At a point in 2019, the United States (U.S) imposed higher visa fees on applicants willing to cop the highly coveted visa. Perhaps this desperation shows why reports indicate that at least 15% of Nigerians overstayed their visa while in the U.S in 2018.

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But behind the dark clouds, some blessed showers seem to be lurking. The policies which some would call hostile and fiercely criticize now appears to bear a silver lining for our dear country.

Of course, Nigeria experiences a huge brain drain to the Americas yearly because of its promise of a better life. The United States of America remains the country where most of Nigeria’s immigrants travel to outside of Africa. When life at home seems to be no more suitable for a crop of the educated and literate, some of them tend to flee for the sanity of ‘Greener Pastures’.

In the days of the U.S visa lottery, Nigerians enjoyed a huge efflux of people to the United States. Many of the immigrants on settling down change professions quickly; re-skilling to take up new opportunities which Nigeria never offered them.

Someone once remarked that migration is natural with humans and so we cannot prevent where humans may choose to migrate to in search of what is best for them. While some will argue that Nigeria, with years of digressive policies which further impoverishes the people, cannot force its best talents to stay behind; others are wont to demand patriotism from those who have chosen to run away. Some questions in this line includes: How can you be patriotic when your economic condition is nothing to write home about? How do you make ends meet if you earn and survive on less than $1 daily? People will definitely migrate in such conditions especially if they have the means to do so.

Nigerians who want to buy a risk-free future for their kids exploited a loophole in the U.S immigration policies until it was ended today, 24th January. Mothers would brace up in their pregnancy and seek a visiting visa to the U.S so that they could birth their kids in America and secure citizenship for their ward. As the Trump administration now sees as a loophole which puts the USA at supposed risk, that channel has been cut off.

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In all of this, one thing is certain. Those who have always seen the arbitrage in U.S immigration as an opportunity to escape Nigeria may now beginning to have a rethink. It has now devolved into either looking into helping to change their motherland – Nigeria – for the better or seeking other alternative routes for escape.

That the U.S State Department is also hinting that the set of people who will most likely be affected by the visa ban amongst the 7 listed countries could be politicians is a great gambit which could force Nigerian politicians to be reasonable. If most of the Nigerian politicians and a few other elites in their ilk are an unreasonable, thieving and selfish bunch, perhaps the cluster of all these visa bans could help reset their heads.


Punch NG

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Macaddy Gad

Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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