US Amends Visa Application Process

For Nigerians hoping to visit the United States, the visa application process has been slightly modified.

And for visa applicants from the south-south zone, this change is particularly good news. The US has opened a new passport collection centre in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.

In a briefing she held simultaneously with journalists in Abuja and Lagos, Stacie Hankins, Consular chief, US embassy, Abuja, said, “As is the case with our DHL partner locations in Lagos and Abuja, visa applicants with approved applications can now collect their passports with their new visas from the DHL collection centre in Port Harcourt.”

For those who qualify for the drop box renewal programme, they also need to submit their passports and applications to the same DHL collection centre in Port Harcourt. However, unlike Abuja where passports are picked up at the collection centre after two days, applicants would pick up their passports at the new centre after three days.

For drop box applicants, it would take about seven days for their passports to be ready for collection. Meanwhile, Hankins also stated that non-immigrant visa applicants should ensure that the DS-160 visa application confirmation number used to schedule their visa interviews online matches the application confirmation page they would take to the embassy for interview.

She stressed that starting from December 1, applicants who fail to comply with the stated rule would not be interviewed and would have to purchase another fee receipt to book a new appointment.

As the Consular chief stressed, there is an increase in the number of Nigerians seeking to visit the United States in the last five years. Between October 2012 and September 2013 for instance, the US embassy in both Abuja and Lagos received more than 182,000 non-immigrant visa applications out of which 65 per cent was approved.

Again, between October 2013 and September 2014, they also received more than 220,000 applications and according to her, majority of the applications were also approved. And of the 15,400 immigrant visa applications received in 2013, the US embassy in Nigeria approved 14,900.

Hankins, who dismissed insinuations that the US uses a quota system to grant or deny visas to Nigerians, said visas are granted or denied based on Section 214B of National Immigration and Nationality Act.

For non-immigrant visas, she stressed that applicants must prove that they have enough funding to support themselves in the US and would also return at the end of their stay.

If for any reason an individual is denied visa, she said the person could reapply 90 days.

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