Nigeria: Visa Horrors - U.S. Embassy Tries to Give Tips

17 April 2019

Cape Town — Have you ever been denied a visa?

This is the case with many Nigerians who try to visit the United States. A painstaking process is followed by access denied! Honestly, there is nothing more disappointing. First you cry - then think of all the money and time wasted - then you cry again. Oh wait, maybe that's just me.

A visa denial brings frustration, and confusion over what to do next. So many questions come to mind - is it that the United States government that doesn't want us in their country or maybe applicants are doing it wrong...

Already, we know that Donald Trump doesn't want immigrants and has even implemented tough laws. Recall that Trump once found himself in the eye of the storm last year when he reportedly called African nations "shithole countries", and questioned why their nationals should be allowed to the U.S.  The New York Times once reported that Trump slammed Nigerians during a June 2017 cabinet meeting that they don't "go back to their huts" once they enter America. Maybe, this might answer why a lot of people get their visas denied.

In an attempt to clear things up, the U.S. Embassy has said that it doesn't enjoy denying Nigerians visas, contrary to popular opinion. It explained that there are some questions often misunderstood by applicants which earn them a rejection.

These revelation comes after many people have been complaining that they have applied more than once and get rejected. The government, at one point, last year even questioned the increased number of visa denials by the embassy after records showed that at least U.S.$158,000 was collected from visa applications, but hundreds of Nigerians were denied visas. Isn't this a steal?

To get to the bottom of this the U.S. embassy hosted a Q & A to answer so many questions on requirements they need to meet in order to succeed and why they might be turned down.

In the live chat, the embassy officials tried to explain that applying for a visa doesn't have to be painful, but you just need to know what you are doing.  The embassy shared knowledge of what to expect and avoid when applying. Here are some of the tips they shared.

* Sometimes, simple mistakes can get your visa application denied. Being smart and avoiding these mistakes will spare you time, money and visa denials.

* How do you plan on financing your trip to the U.S.? While there is no set amount of funds you are required to show, you want to prove that you can cover all costs associated with your trip. This may require you to estimate the cost of return travel tickets, lodging, boarding, domestic travel, and medical expenses.

* Have you been to the U.S. before? - be ready to explain the purpose of any previous trips. You may also be asked where you went, what you did, and where you stayed.

* Fill out your personal data as correct as it is - thus adding all your names, date of birth, place of birth with the right spelling and if you are married you have to put the right status.

* Check if you put in the correct passport number.

* Bring additional documents that you think could help - employment letter, land titles, proof of business, bank statement, and other documents that could prove that you can return.

* It's important to put how much time you want to stay in America.

* You must be able to establish your purpose and intent of traveling abroad.

* Be watchful about what you say in the visa interview for it could be held against you.

As the embassy was answering and sharing details, many Nigerians shared their bitter experiences. Here are some of their stories;

Adebola Alex Okulaja   - I applied for a usa visa on the 14th of February 2017 and I was given a two years tourist visa. But on my way to usa via turkey at point of transit, the Turkish immigration called the usa embassy in Abuja, and I was told to go back to Nigeria that the usa embassy needs me. When I got to the US embassy in Nigeria, my visa was cancelled with no reason given. The following year I applied and was denied again without reason. I have two big companies of my own, married with kids, assets all over Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan. Why was I refused is still surprising to me. My plight now is I find it difficult to apply other countries with the "US cancelled stamped" on my passport. What do I do?

Nkiruka Erinne Ohaegbu  - I had a disheartening experience in March this year at US embassy Abuja, being denied our family visa application which we applied for our 6months old baby who is a US citizen ( hospital delivery bills fully paid). she was to go for medical check for a heart condition present at birth. I now ask myself what kind of country will deny an ailing infant such request. It's most unfortunate.

Anjembe Simon   - Hello US Embassy, I am happy for this opportunity. I want to know if consular officers are given a target of number of persons to issue VISAs to per day. I was Issued 214B refusal letter that I am not qualified for student Visa simply because my sponsor who is my sister is married in the US. Even with the fact that I have a job here in Nigeria and was given study leave by my organization. I ended up deferring the admission for the graduate program and I am not sure if I should apply again to enroll for the school come September 2019 because nothing has changed in my status in relation to my sister. I am the only son of my family now I don't understand the feeling that I wouldn't return to my home country after graduation. My parent are getting older and they depend on me. Pls I need clarification.

Emeka Kingsley Okam Anyanwu   - Thanks for this ample opportunity, I have been refused visa four times to travel to US to attend a cousin's wedding, etc I have travel experience and got a good job. I intend to apply again with my family on a visit, will want to know what my chances are because from all indication is like the embassy is just interested in the visa fee and not whether you are qualified to get visa or not thereby making things difficult for visa applicants.

Ayoola Temmy  - I work with Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria for about 12 years now and still counting,married with children for 9 years, own properties worth Millions of Naira in Lagos and Ogun states yet the consular officer said I don't have enough ties to my country. Highly unbelievable because on daily basis I meet jobless Americans at the Lagos Airport who are either here see monkeys or meet boyfriend/girlfriend they met online,yet they got Nigerian visa. The most painful aspect of it is the speed they hand you the blue denial letter with NO opportunity to defend your claims. Unlike UK visa application where proper provision is made for supportive documents submission, US government doesn't care about that and yet if you go to the embassy with such documents you wouldn't even get a chance to present it. Please do one need to be the Governor of Lagos state before you consider him/her has haven enough ties with the country of origin or what do you consider has enough ties?

Many people complained that the visa officer did not even ask any questions nor looked at any documents and rejected their application.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump's administration is considering a new immigration measure to impose visa restrictions on countries whose citizens have a track record of overstaying beyond the validity of their short-term U.S. visas. As it turns out, Nigeria is listed as one of the African countries whose nationals have high rates of overstaying their visas. Others include Chad, Eritrea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Have you had trouble getting a visa to the U.S.? Tell us your visa stories.

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