The United States has again barred Nigeria from its diversity-visa programme, popularly known as visa lottery, application for 2022, a government document has shown.
The Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery is a means for nationals of certain countries with low rates of immigration to apply for the U.S permanent residence by obtaining the green card.
The U.S. Department of State, in a 19-page document, said Nigeria was removed from the diversity lottery list because more than 50,000 of its nationals emigrated to the U.S in the past five years.
“For DV-2022, persons born in the following countries are not eligible to apply, because more than, 50,000 natives of these countries immigrated to the United States in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (including Hong Kong SAR), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam,” the document read.
But persons born in Macau SAR and Taiwan are eligible, it added.
While natives of other African countries are eligible to apply, Nigeria is the only country exempted on the continent, adding that “persons born in the areas administered prior to June 1967 by Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt are chargeable, respectively, to Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt.
“Persons born in the Gaza Strip are chargeable to Egypt; persons born in the West Bank are chargeable to Jordan; persons born in the Golan Heights are chargeable to Syria.”
Between 2013 and 2015, Nigeria was one of the countries that registered the most applicants for the lottery, accounting for nearly a third of applicants in that period, according to the U.S Department of Homeland Security.
So starting in 2015, Nigerian applicants were barred from the lottery programme because of the country’s number of nationals with green cards.
Data obtained from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shows that the U.S granted residence to 38,895 Nigerians between 2015 and 2019, 11 percent of 355,605 Africans with green cards in the U.S for that period.
‘Not the first time’
The exclusion is one of the many stern immigration policies Nigeria has suffered thus far.
Earlier this year, the Trump administration halted immigration from Nigerians who were looking to live in the U.S permanently — a policy that received wide condemnation.
The policy, however, does not apply to non-immigrant, temporary visas for tourist, business, and medical visits.
According to the DHS, the primary reason for the new restrictions, was because Nigeria did not “meet the Department’s stronger security standards.”
Though ravaged by decade-long Boko Haram insurgency, Nigeria is not on the “state sponsor of terrorism list.” Countries under the list are: Iran, North Korea, Syria or Sudan.
The U.S acting Homeland Security Secretary, Chad Wolf, however, noted, “the restrictions are not permanent if the country commits to change.”
Last month, the DHS announced a proposed policy that will limit the length of time foreign students including Nigerians in America universities can remain in the country to two years, after a failed plan to strip international students of their visas if they are not required to attend some classes in person, during the COVID-19 lockdown, in July.
In what seems a stricter immigration rule, the new rule will restrict international students on admission in U.S universities to a “fixed period of stay”—two years maximum—a departure from the current policy that allows student visa holders to remain in the U.S for “as long as they maintain compliance with the terms of admission.”
According to the DHS, the rule would help prevent visa fraud, protect national security and discourage students from overstaying.
Though Nigeria has the largest number of students of African origin studying in the U.S, — 13,000 out of 39,000 African students admitted yearly –– in 2019, Nigeria’s student overstay rate stood at 13.43 percent, a little over the 10 percent benchmark for overstay.
Following this, many condemned the Nigerian government for being overtly passive about what they termed “aggressive immigration policies” the US continues to introduce.
Meanwhile, while many argue that the diversity-visa programme is politically important as immigrants become good assets to the U.S, some including, President Donald Trump, think otherwise.
In 2017 after a stabbing incident caused by a visa lottery winner, Mr Trump said under the diversity-visa programme, countries “give us their worst people, they put them in a bin.”
On the contrary, applicants are usually selected by the Department of State through a randomised computer drawing after meeting certain guidelines.
The Department of State distributes diversity visas among six geographic regions with no single country receiving more than seven percent of the available DVs in one year.
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