The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Mary Beth Leonard, has said the recent ban granting fresh residency visas to Nigerians is not permanent but subject to review if certain conditions are met.
She said the ban was based on the United States’ concerns for information sharing between Washington and Abuja and not about character definition of Nigeria as being erroneously peddled.
Speaking yesterday during a courtesy visit to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, in Abuja, Leonard said the US would like to see Nigeria work harder towards diversifying its economy and exploiting the huge entrepreneurial manpower abound in the country.
On the visa restriction, the ambassador said: “I need to clarify something for you here. The immigrant visa ban does not affect people who are currently resident in the United States. It does not cancel the status of anyone who is currently in the United States. What the Secretary of State, Mike Pompey, said was something that was meant to be temporary.
Earlier, Ngige had raised concerns over the inclusion of Nigeria on the list of countries affected by the recent US visa ban, saying the action came as a rude shock to the ministry.
He described the ban as not warranted considering the contribution of Nigerian professionals to the US economy.
Some of these Nigerians are medical doctors, engineers and people with high level of proficiency in oil and gas fields. They were all part of the Nigerian residents in the US and it came to us as a rude shock when the United States Government banned Nigerians and put us on the list of those countries whose residency status have been cancelled,” he said.
Ngige added that it is on the record that more than 70 per cent of Nigerians resident in the US are highly skilled professionals who contribute billions of dollars yearly into that country’s economy while repatriating equally impressive amount home to Nigeria.