US President Joe Biden has reversed and lifted the immigrant visa ban imposed on Nigeria and other countries by former president Donald Trump, his predecessor.
Biden reversed the ban on his first day in office and directed the State Department to restart visa processing for individuals from the affected countries.
Trump had last February placed an immigrant visa ban on Nigeria, citing Nigeria’s lack of a robust database. The American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary-Beth Leonard, stated at the time that Nigeria must improve on its data intelligence to ease the investigation of its citizens wishing to migrate to the US, if it wants the ban lifted.
First issued as the Executive Order 13768 of January 25, 2017, the ban was amended several times in the face of numerous court challenges, with the final version barring citizens of seven countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea.
In January 2020, Trump signed fresh a proclamation that included Nigeria, though not as severe as those for the seven countries covered by the preexisting travel ban.
While it still allowed Nigerians to visit the US, citizens were, for the most part, barred from settling in the US permanently.
Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the department of homeland security, had said the travel restrictions were imposed on Nigeria and six other nations to “address security concerns in the way the banned countries track their own citizens, share information with the U.S. and cooperate on immigration matters”.
But hours after assuming office as 46th president, Biden issued an executive order that reversed the travel restrictions, saying “immigrants have helped strengthen America’s families, communities, businesses and workforce, and economy, infusing the United States with creativity, energy, and ingenuity”.
According to Bloomberg, “the ban that Biden ended blocked entry to most people from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and North Korea. It also restricted immigrant visas for people from Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Eritrea as well as for certain others from Venezuela and Tanzania.”
It said the new executive order seeks to review other “extreme vetting” practices used by the US under the Trump administration to improve travellers’ information-sharing with foreign governments.
It, however, reported that Biden’s “ambitious” immigration policies, which also seeks an eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, could face obstacles in congress.