The Trump administration just made its first move in clampdown on student visas for Nigerians following the announcement of the immediate indefinite suspension of interview waivers for visa renewals (drop-box) for applicants in Nigeria.
The interview waiver process allowed Nigerian applicants who met certain eligibility criteria to renew their visas by submitting their passports and supporting documents for review without going through a new in-person interview each time.
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As the Trump government considers new immigration reform to impose visa restrictions on countries whose citizens have a track record of overstaying beyond the legality of their short-term US visas.
The Trump administration into issuing an unofficial directive to the Homeland Security instructing for the stipulations for entry into the USA for student applicants for study visas to be ‘iced’ and placed on “paused” indefinitely until the immigration policies are officially amended.
Nigeria mainly receives a vast majority of non-immigrant B1/B2 visas issued to Africans. It accounted for over 25% (132,137) of visas issued to Africans in 2018 alone.
The USA immigration office has effectively halted issuing student visas to students coming from Nigeria until further notice. This is until the Trump administration pushes through its immigration policy to finality.
An immigration officer in New Jersey, North East region of the USA who spoke to us stated that the majority of students coming from Nigeria do not return to Nigeria upon completion of their studies. “They overstay”. The officer added the list of a backlog of students awaiting visa issuance is long and growing as a result.
The USA immigration had previously made the process of visa application difficult and costly. In Nigeria, the processing and associated fees are estimated N400,000 for each applicate. The costs are non-refundable. Upon non-approval, the applicant can only reapply after six months after paying the processing fees again.
But the latest directives have halted the processing indefinitely, unofficially.
But more damaging is the action against supposed stolen funds and corrupt politicians. The immigration office working under the guidance of Homeland Security have tagged majority of the students seeking for study visas as children of political leaders holding elective offices in Nigeria. The Immigration in effect have begun requesting for source of income.
Previously, the immigration only requested for prove of ability to provide for school fees, boarding and other related expenses. But that has changed. The office now requires for source of income, evidence funds are legitimate funds. As a result, many have turned away. Many would-be students, children of top politicians in Nigeria unable to provide convincing evidence of source of income have turned to other countries.
Tertiary institutions in the USA are feeling the pinch. The foreign student body which forms a significant percentage of revenue for the universities has since decreased noticeably.