The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama yesterday stated that federal government has begun working on the security and information sharing requirements for the lifting of a US travel ban on prospective immigrants from Nigeria.
Speaking at a joint news conference in Washington with US Secretary of State, Mr. Mike Pompeo, Onyeama said Nigeria was 'blindsided' by the US decision on Friday to add it and five other nations to an expanded version of the US visa ban.
President Donald Trump of the United States issued an expanded version of his travel ban on Friday as part of a presidential proclamation, which said Washington would suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria.
Temporary visas for tourists, business people, students and workers from those nations will not be affected, it said.
US officials said the countries failed to meet US security and information-sharing standards, which necessitated the new restrictions. "We've identified all those requirements and we have actually started working on all them," Onyeama said.
"It is actually very straightforward and it was very gratifying to come here and meet with US officials and to understand more clearly the reasoning behind it," he said.
"We look forward to being taken off this visa restriction list," Onyeama said, once all the criteria are met.
Pompeo also said he was 'optimistic' that Nigeria would make the necessary changes.
Reuters reported Nigeria is the biggest country on the list whose citizens will be suspended from US visas that can lead to permanent residency. The US government also will stop issuing "diversity visas" to nationals of Sudan and Tanzania, Trump's proclamation said.
The original travel ban, issued in 2017, barred nearly all immigrants and travelers from seven countries with majority Muslim populations. The policy was revised amid court challenges, but the US Supreme Court ultimately upheld it in 2018.
Trump has made tougher immigration enforcement a central focus of his 2020 re-election campaign. His travel ban policy is popular with Republican supporters.