The number of applications by Nigerians applying to go to the United States America (USA) for various reasons this year alone has risen to almost 40,000, signifying an 11 per cent increase from 2011.
This development has made Nigeria a priority country for the US alongside Brazil and China.
The Consular Officer of the US Embassy in Abuja, Ms. Patty Neary, made this disclosure in Abuja yesterday at the monthly briefing of the US mission where she added that approximately 75 per cent of the visa applications are for tourist visas while the remaining 25 per cent are a combination of student, business and official visas.
She advised applicants to plan ahead for their trips to accommodate the current six-month wait time for visa interviews by applicants.
Neary disclosed that the embassy in Abuja currently has only three consular staff but hat she is expecting more to join them soon, a move which would ensure the reduction of the six month wait time.
"We have had some interns join us temporarily during the summer to work on the back log of applications; we are expecting at least two more people soon. But we also work on some Saturdays," she disclosed.
"The embassy allows for emergency appointments in some instances such as medical reasons, but the applicant must first secure a regular appointment," she added.
According to her, "Student visas are given priorities, but they have to prepare ahead. Now they can apply 120 days before they have to be in school and they must have done all the paperwork and paid the service fee. During interviews, we do not want to hear them talk about the school, but tell us why they choose the school instead," Neary advised.
She called on the public to join hands with the embassy to eliminate the activities of touts by making their applications themselves.
Fielding questions from newsmen, the Information Officer of the US Mission, Ms. Debra MacLean, said the consideration of a five-year visa policy for Nigerians instead of the current two-year policy is a designation of the government of the two countries.
She added that it would be determined by the host country (Nigeria) and would also be an issue of reciprocity in visa issuance.