THE United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, on Friday said America would not discriminate against any Nigerian on the basis of religion or on the new visa regime.
Symington said that two-year visas for Nigerians were still valid.
President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that banned citizens from seven countries from travelling into the U.S. for 90 days.
The countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The restrictions were part of wide-ranging immigration controls that also suspended refugee arrivals.
At a press conference in Abuja on President Donald Trump’s executive order and its effects on Nigeria, the ambassador dispelled the rumour of reducing U.S. visa policy for Nigeria to one year.
“The new order now is for the U.S. government to cross-check as many that are coming into the U.S. before issuing visas.
“We will not discriminate on the basis of religion in issuing visas to Nigerians. The two-year visa is still valid contrary to reports we have heard in the media.
“Nigeria’s leadership role is crucial in the world and Nigeria cannot be blacklisted. The importance of Nigeria in the world is legal,” he said.
The envoy explained that Nigerians, particularly its Muslim community, would not be discriminated against by the order.
He said that the aim of the executive order was not to be used as a weapon to deliberately deny anyone visa into the U.S.
The ambassador explained that the executive order was designed to put in place a new and effective system.
He said that the new system would ensure that people, who genuinely wanted to visit, live or work in the U.S., could do so and stop any that posed a threat from entering into the country.
On the issue of the U.S. closing its doors against countries that were in crisis and refugees, Symington said that his country was not shutting its doors but putting in place measures to ensure safety for all.
“We recognise that we are a nation of immigrants and a nation constantly seeking to bring diverse people together.
“Our goal is to have in place a process that works. For everyone that applies for a visa, we should be able to find out the persons background as to where he has been before.
“The idea is to ensure that when we open the door to our house, people are going in to do good deeds, not to do harm,” he said.
The Head of Consular Affairs, U.S. Embassy, Abuja, Mr Megan Moore also gave assurance that the executive order would not affect the validity of visas issued to Nigerians, saying that the only thing that had changed “is the renewal period”.
The Consular Chief said that though the U.S. visa policy was based on reciprocity, Nigerians would not be discriminated against.
“It is important to note that there is not going to be any changes for Nigerians who have a valid U.S. visa.
“The U.S. Government issues multiple-entry two-year visa to Nigerians. The rumour that we are planning to change that to one year is not true.
“The main difference for Nigerians will be; you can use the DHL Drop box renewal programme if your visa has expired within 12 months.
“But if it expired more than 12 months ago, then you will need to schedule an appointment for interview.
“Our goal is to ensure that Nigerians are able to travel to U. S. so that they continue to participate in the fabrics of our lives,” Moore said.