Under a new expansion of the Trump administration’s travel bans, as of January 31, 2020, citizens from Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country; Eritrea; Myanmar (Burma); and Kyrgyzstan will not be allowed to apply for visas to immigrate to the United States. Nonimmigrants are not included in the restrictions; neither are Special Immigrant Visa recipients who have helped the United States.
Under the presidential proclamation, two other countries, Sudan and Tanzania, will be barred from participating in the diversity visa lottery, which randomly awards green cards to 50,000 immigrants from underrepresented countries annually. Many of those affected are from African countries. The proclamation spells out the country-by-country policy and exceptions.
The six new countries are in addition to a list that includes Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Nationals from those countries are banned in most cases from obtaining immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to come to the United States, except for students and others with “significant contacts” in the United States. Belarus was also reportedly on the list of countries considered for a travel ban, but as of now, it has not been added.
Nigerians are expected to be especially heavily affected due to the large numbers of Nigerian immigrants coming to the United States. According to estimates, there are about 327,000 Nigerians living in the United States. Houston reportedly has the largest Nigerian population outside of Brazil and Africa. According to reports, denials of Nigerian applications for B visas have increased in the last two years also, to more than half. Some Nigerians in the United States say they feel singled out and are questioning why their country is being targeted. The Trump administration counters with terrorism concerns—such as from Boko Haram—although it hasn’t explained how those concerns are addressed when only permanent immigration is being banned from Nigeria and tourists and other temporary visitors are still allowed in.
The Trump administration said the travel ban policy is reviewed periodically and is intended to encourage information-sharing and tighten security around allowing into the United States nationals of countries that do not comply with U.S. minimum security standards or cooperate to prevent illegal immigration. The administration said it would work with banned countries to help them address U.S. security standards and get them off the list.
- Presidential proclamation on travel ban for six countries, https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-improving-enhanced-vetting-capabilities-processes-detecting-attempted-entry/
- News articles related to six-country ban, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-51335011; https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/479474-trump-courts-new-controversy-with-travel-ban-expansion
- News article on Nigerians in the United States and potential effects of the travel ban, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/2/1/21116879/trump-travel-ban-nigeria-immigration