The Consul-General, United States Embassy, William Laidlaw, has said the US visa application processes were simple and not as stringent as people thought, stressing that the mission was working to improve and make its visa processes better for Nigerians by decentralising it.
Laidlaw explained that to qualify for a visit to the US, an applicant must show that he has social and economic ties sufficient to meet the American immigration terms, adding that those who failed to meet this requirement are often turned down.
The Consul-General, who said this during a tour of the US Consular Section by select journalists in Abuja on Thursday, added that those who had social and economic ties usually had easier time and more chance to obtain US visa than somebody who is just starting out.
He said, “To really qualify for a visit to the US, you have to show you have social and economic ties sufficient to meet the immigration terms we have in our laws.
“To have those social and economic ties usually means somebody who has developed a career, developed a household and has done something to develop himself within Nigeria.”
Laidlaw said people who were refused visa could re-apply if they felt that the situations had changed, as according to him, statistics showed that many who re-applied were issued visas.
“If you can establish your social and economic ties and we understand who you are in Nigerian context, that allows us to make an evaluation judgment; It’s very hard for very young people, I’m sorry, but that’s the way the law is written,” he said.
He, however, said young business people or students who did not receive a visa should not be discouraged as they could be successful the next time they applied.
According to him, no fewer than 7,000 Nigerians are studying in his country, noting that 66 per cent of tourist visa applications were approved in 2014.
The Consul-General said the missions in Abuja and Lagos processed about 400 to 900 visa applications daily, excluding the drop-box applications which are meant for visa renewal.
He said, “Between 2009 and 2014, visa applications rose by 345 per cent in our missions based in Abuja and Lagos. Nigeria is an expanding country and the Nigerian middle class is becoming more and more prominent and growing and all those things reflected in the growth rate we see in visa applications.”