The United States (US) Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, yesterday said his country would not discriminate against any Nigerian on the basis of religion or on the new visa regime.
President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order banning citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from travelling into the US for 90 days as part of wide-ranging immigration controls that also suspended refugee arrivals.
But at a press conference in Abuja on executive order and its effects on Nigeria, the ambassador dispelled the rumour of reduction in US visa policy for Nigeria to one year, saying the two-year visa for Nigeria was still valid.
“The new order now is for the US government to cross-check as many that are coming into the US 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.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the envoy explained that Nigerians, particularly its Muslim community, would not be discriminated against by the order, explaining that the aim of the executive order was not to be used as a weapon to deliberately deny anyone visa into the US, but designed to put in place a new and effective system.
He said the new system would ensure that people who genuinely wanted to visit, live or work in the US could do so and stop any that posed a threat from entering into the country.
On the issue of the US closing its doors against countries that were in crisis and refugees, Symington said 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.