Nigerians wishing to travel to the United States can now heave a sigh of relief: they can now secure the American visa within 20 days, not 150 days anymore.
United States ambassador to Nigeria His Excellency Terence McCulley disclosed this in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP.
"We recognise that the visa is an important part of our relationship and we have every interest in facilitating legitimate travel visas of students, people and tourists who want to travel to the US as part of dynamic series of exchanges between both countries," McCulley stated.
The ambassador attributed this achievement to the hard work of the consular offices in both Abuja and Lagos. Both offices have been able to manage what is a very significant increase in work load without a concomitant increase in human or physical resources to manage the interviews that are being undertaken, he added.
According to McCulley, over the past years there had been a huge increase in demand for the US visa by Nigerians which led to a significant wait time to secure a visa interview. This, unfortunately, had permitted middle men and touts to grab appointments and then resell them, he said.
"By reducing the time Nigerians have to wait to secure a visa, we hope to eliminate these people who are profiting on the gullibility of visa applicants and we hope to be able to offer better services," he said.
Meanwhile, the governments of Nigeria and the US will this week hold a bi-national commission (BNC) working group on the Niger Delta in Port Harcourt. It will be hosted by Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State.
Ambassador McCulley noted that it will be the first time the BNC working group will be hosted outside Abuja or Washington. "This is an important opportunity to raise the engagement level with our partners," he stated.
According to him, the occasion will bring together all the governors of the Niger Delta region, FG and US delegations to look at how to work together to improve partnership with the region.