A statement by the Embassy of the United States of America in Nigeria denying a report that it had stopped issuing student visa to Nigerians has drawn criticisms on social media.
The Embassy, through its verified Twitter handle @USEmbassyAbuja had on Monday described as false the report by an online medium that it had placed a ban on study visa for Nigerians until further notice.
“#FakeNews Alert! Be advised, reports of Student Visa ban for Nigerians is false. If you have seen such manufactured item on Facebook and Twitter or received it via WhatsApp, please communicate that it is false,” the tweet read.
While a few Nigerians commended the embassy for debunking the report, majority of those who responded used the opportunity to narrate their experiences of visa denial.
They wondered the difference between the fake news and the reported visa denial of many student applicants who secured admission in the US.
“My friend was given admission by a school in the US and you denied him visa twice. So why shouldn’t we believe the news?” A user with the handle, @nnaemeza, wrote.
Another user, @alphaolive, said, “Many people that apply for American Visa were denied without any justification. I was told that I won’t come back when I only wanted to stay for two weeks. It is immoral to be collecting visa fees from Nigerians and act as if it is a revenue source for USA.”
One Francis Odikpo, said the experience of visa denial could be painful.
“Visiting America should not be a big deal, let’s work and make Nigeria better. Maybe it is their way of telling us to fix our mess,” he added.
A woman @Diva_Ambitious, asked the embassy to release its record of the number of visas it had issued in four months.
“And how many applications,” @sigaboj added to that comment.
“And how can you explain denying a student, who has secured admission with scholarship and also has an uncle, a lecturer at the same school he was admitted to, who will make his stay and education more comfortable, a visa after two attempts in two months?” Olayinka Adio queried.
A user @Paul2ng said an outright ban of student visa would be better.
He said, “Maybe ban would have been better, when a vast majority are being refused and no cogent reason given, then don’t blame them if they interpret it as a “Ban”. @UKinNigeria still remains the best, they always take their time to explain to applicants the reasons for their actions.”
“Don’t come on here behaving as if you issue visas because you don’t. Student visa or Not. You don’t issue visas anymore,” @Annieomughele also wrote.
Our correspondent had in 2018 reported that a large number of applicants were denied study visas without being given any reason. The embassy had refused to respond to enquiries from our correspondent.
A former US ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, however, told The PUNCH that visas were usually issued at the discretion of the consular officer, who needed to be satisfied that the applicant would return to his country at the expiration of his visa.