The European Union says it can impose restrictive visa implementation rules on Nigeria, if it fails to play its part in the return and readmission of its nationals staying illegally in the EU.
The EU, which comprises Germany, Italy, Spain, France and 23 other countries, further stated that although it would not place a visa ban on Nigeria, it could make its visas more difficult for Nigerian applicants if Nigeria failed to meet its standards.
The EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ms Virginie Battu-Henriksson, said this in an email chat with The PUNCH on Tuesday.
Under the new policy, citizens of the affected countries would not be allowed to apply for visas to emigrate to the US under the policy aimed at tightening “security for countries that don’t comply with the US minimum security standards or cooperate to prevent illegal immigration.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, Nigeria presents a high risk, relative to other countries in the world, of terrorist travel to the US.
The US further stated that Nigeria did not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information, which is necessary for the protection of the national security and public safety of the US.
Following the US action, the Federal Government set up a committee headed by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, to ensure that Nigeria meets requirements the US said were not in place.
On February 5, the committee met with the US Consular General in Abuja with a view to addressing issues raised in the visa ban.
On Tuesday, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Mary Lenoard, explained that the visa ban was not permanent, adding that it was subject to review if certain conditions were met.
But while Nigeria is struggling with the US visa ban, the EU said it could impose restrictive visa implementation rules on it.
When asked if the EU had challenges Nigeria was trying to resolve with the US, Battu-Henriksson said Nigerians still placed among the top 10 nationalities detected as staying irregularly in the EU even though the number of Nigerians travelling irregularly to the EU had dropped.
She said Nigerian criminal networks remained active in the EU.
The EU spokesperson said, “Nigerians still place among the top 10 nationalities detected as staying irregularly on the EU territory, although the number of Nigerians entering the EU irregularly declined drastically last year.