By Sunday Isuwa and Kingsley Opurum |
The United States has said its $15,000 Visa Bond policy will not affect Nigerians.
The US Mission in Nigeria said Nigeria is currently not part of the pilot visa bond programme it introduced.
In a statement it issued yesterday, the US specifically noted that the most populous black nation will not be affected by the new policy.
The Trump administration had introduced the new temporary policy issued to discourage nationals of some countries with higher visa overstay rates.
Under the new policy, visitors to the US from such countries would have to pay up to $15,000 in bonds.
The visa bond pilot scheme is said to target mostly African countries with high visa overstay.
Such visitors are believed to have entered the country legally on student, tourist, work visas and then stay.
According to data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), almost 30,000 Nigerians overstayed their B1/B2 visas in 2018, ranking as the 5th country with the most visa overstays in the US.
This makes Nigeria the African country with the most visa overstays.
In the statement made available to LEADERSHIP in Abuja, the US Mission said, “In response to the April 2019 Presidential Memorandum on Combating
High Nonimmigrant Overstay Rates, the Department and our embassies and consulates overseas conducted an in-depth analysis to identify and address root causes of overstays.
“Among other efforts to address this challenge, the State Department is considering additional steps to address overstays, including piloting a limited visa bonds program to test, in coordination with
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the operational feasibility of posting, processing, and discharging visa bonds as means to ensure the timely departure from the United States of certain travelers. Accordingly, the State Department will begin a limited six-month visa bond pilot program beginning on December 24, 2020.
“We are committed to combating visa overstays and making sure travelers to the United States respect our laws. The implementation of this pilot builds on our engagement with foreign governments in recent years and will ensure continued progress to reduce overstay rates. Nigeria is not included in this six months pilot program”.
Biden Unveils Cabinet As Trump Caves In, Gives Nod To Transition
Meanwhile, United States president-elect, Joe Biden, yesterday officially unveiled members of cabinet that will serve in his administration from January 20, 2021.
This is coming just as outgoing President Donald Trump has finally conceded to the transition process after weeks of wrangling, even though he declined to concede defeat.
All of the officials named by Biden as cabinet members are previously senior members of the Obama administration.
Biden’s picks include Antony Blinken for Secretary of State and Avril Haines as Intelligence Director. In a broadcast yesterday, Biden said the goal of the nominations was to start work with the transition committee ahead of the presidential inauguration.
The unveiling came less than 24 hours after incumbent President Trump, authorised the General Services Administration to commence the transition process, although he is yet to concede the election.
If confirmed, Avril Haines would be the first female Director of National Intelligence and Alejandro Mayorkas the first Latino Homeland Security boss.
John Kerry will be climate envoy while foreign policy veteran, Antony Blinken, is nominated for Secretary of State role, BBC reports.
Biden can now access millions of dollars in funds, national security briefings and key government officials to properly prepare to take over the presidency on January 20.
The General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency overseeing the handover, said it was now acknowledging Mr Biden as the “apparent winner” of the November 3, 2020 election.
The move grants the Democrats access to millions of dollars in funds, as well as access to national security briefings and government officials, so that Biden can properly prepare to take over the presidency on January 20, 2021.
Trump said the GSA must “do what needs to be done”, but still refuses to concede the election, repeating unsubstantiated claims of a “rigged election”.
However, Biden is projected to beat President Trump by 306 votes to 232 in the US electoral college when it meets to formally confirm the winner on 14 December. This is far above the 270 votes he needs.
Governor Tom Wolf yesterday said he had certified the victory of Biden in Pennsylvania, one of the key swing states.