US President Joe Biden has lifted the immigrant visa ban imposed on Nigeria by his predecessor, Donald Trump.
New York Times and Bloomberg reported that Biden who was sworn in yesterday as the 46th president of the US reversed the ban hours after first day in office and directed the State Department to restart visa processing for individuals from the affected countries.
The action, according to reports came through an executive order and would seek a plan to address the people affected.
Trump imposed the ban on immigrant visa — issued to those who seek to relocate to the US — on Nigeria and six other countries after expanding his controversial immigration policies.
First issued as the Executive Order 13768 of January 25, 2017, the ban was amended several times in the face of numerous court challenges, with the final version barring citizens of seven countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea.
In January 2020, the immediate past US president signed fresh a proclamation that included Nigeria, though not as severe as those for the seven countries covered by the preexisting travel ban.
While it still allowed Nigerians to visit the US, citizens were, for the most part, barred from settling in the US permanently.
The acting secretary of the department of homeland security, Chad Wolf, had explained that the travel restrictions were imposed on Nigeria and six other nations to “address security concerns in the way the banned countries track their own citizens, share information with the U.S. and cooperate on immigration matters”.
But hours after assuming office yesterday, Biden issued an executive order that reversed the travel restrictions, saying “immigrants have helped strengthen America’s families, communities, businesses and workforce, and economy, infusing the United States with creativity, energy, and ingenuity”.
“The ban that Biden ended blocked entry to most people from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and North Korea. It also restricted immigrant visas for people from Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Eritrea as well as for certain others from Venezuela and Tanzania,” Bloomberg reported.
The measure directs the State Department to resume visa processing for those countries and develop a plan to address people affected, such as those who were denied entry to the US
The action also orders reviews of other “extreme vetting” practices used by the Trump administration, while directing the US to improve information-sharing with foreign governments to bolster screening of travellers.
It, however, reported that Biden’s “ambitious” immigration policies, which also seeks an eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, could face obstacles in congress.
Biden is also proposing a sweeping immigration bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million people living illegally in the US.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday night that the president had sent the text of his proposal to Congress.
Biden also issued a proclamation ordering a stop to the construction of Trump’s wall along the border with Mexico.
It rescinds the national emergency that Trump declared to secure funding for the wall.