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Japa: US Embassy interviews over 150,000 Nigerians for visas in 2023

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The United States Embassy in Nigeria said it has interviewed over 150,000 Nigerians, including 30,000 students, who applied for visas to their country this year.

The head, Mr. David Greene, made this disclosure on Sunday during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.

He also assured visa applicants of the mission’s commitment to tackling all visa-related hitches.

According to him, issues related to visas would fully become a thing of the past, saying the mission is doing everything within its power to tackle such challenges.

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“When it comes to visas specifically, well, of course, it is a simple fact: the demand for visa appointments outnumbers the supply.

“So, those appointments are available, and we are doing everything we can to address that gap. What folks do not know is that this year, we have interviewed more than 150,000 Nigerians.

“This is in addition to 30,000 students. Hundreds of thousands of students have had the opportunity to seek visas from the US.

“We are doing the best we can to get proper ways for all the categories and after having an enormous backlog as a result of COVID-19 and all that.

“We have made great progress though. In March, we instituted a five-year term for visas to the US,” he added.

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He urged persons desiring to travel to the US to apply early and ensure that the visa requests are tied to events.

“Folks that are seeking visas should apply early, make sure that the plan is for an event as they can.

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“This is because we do acknowledge that there is a backlog, and we will do what we can to make sure people that need a warrant visa to the US can get them,” he said.

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Delta diverts Lagos flight to Lome after thunderstorm, passenger’s death

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A yet-to-be identified passenger onboard Delta Air Lines’ Atlanta-Lagos flights reportedly died midair on Monday.

Theheute learnt that she died due to a health emergency that occurred midair, approximately three hours before the flight’s scheduled arrival in Lagos.

Although a decision was made by the crew to proceed to Lagos, it was learnt that heavy thunderstorm in the area forced the pilots to divert the plane to Lome, Togo.

The flight took an additional delay in Lome due to refueling and the weather, according to some persons close to the development said. The Delta Air Lines’ A330-200 aircraft had 215 customers onboard.

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However, the flight later landed safely in Lagos, approximately eight and a half hour after the scheduled time. The flight was initially scheduled to arrive by 10am on Monday. It was learnt that the passengers received compensation.

Delta Air in a statement apologised for the inconveniences, adding that the airline regretted any difficulty or delays caused to its customers’ travel arrangements during the flight.

The statement read, “Delta flight 54 ATL-LOS has landed safely in LOS after an onboard customer medical situation and subsequent diversion to LFW due to weather. We sincerely apologise to our customers for the inconvenience and delay in their travel plans.”

Meanwhile, some passengers and Nigerians made comments on social media about the flight.

@samson_Goddy posted a tweet on X stating that his flight was delayed and that two medical emergencies occurred, including the death of a woman in midair.

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He noted that the passengers were forced to make an emergency landing in a different country after the aircraft ran out of fuel.

He wrote, “My Delta flight from Atlanta to Lagos was scheduled to land at 10am, but arrived at 6pm or later.

“So we had two health emergencies: a lady died on the flight midair, we ran out of fuel and were forced to do an emergency landing in another country, and we were grounded for 5+ hours.

Responding to questions on X about the incident he added, “Yes, oh, one woman died like that three hours after we left. I think it was a heart attack, because there was a doctor onboard. But I overheard something similar.”

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FG promises seamless passport for Nigerians

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The Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian government towards delivering a seamless and efficient passport for Nigerians, both within the country and in the Diaspora.

Speaking at the inaugural Diaspora Webinar Lecture Series of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) entitled: “New Passport Policy/Processes for Nigerians in the Diaspora,” Tunji-Ojo said that was the directive from President Bola Tinubu to him and other cabinet members towards attainment of the Renewed Hope Agenda.

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The minisiter, who emphasised the importance of providing top-notch services befitting Nigeria’s stature as the giant of Africa, stated that: “Effective from March 8, 2024 Nigerians will benefit from a contactless passport application process, reducing the time required to complete the entire process to a maximum of seven to 10 minutes.

“This monumental reform is part of the overarching efforts to modernise the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and enhance service delivery to citizens,” he added.

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Highlighting the achievements and reforms within the ministry and its parastatals, particularly the NIS, the minister underscored the clearance of over 200,000 passport backlogs within three weeks of his assumption of office and the deployment of E-Gates at international airports to streamline entry and exit processes.

He also outlined plans for the installation of a modern control centre across international airports in Abuja and Lagos, aimed at enhancing immigration officers’ capacity and providing Nigerians with a seamless travel experience.

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Tunji-Ojo stressed on the importance of leveraging on technology to simplify passport acquisition, stating that Nigerians would only need their National Identification Number (NIN) for passport applications and bio metrics.

“Through an automated system, data will be pulled from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) database to fill application forms, reducing the risk of identity fraud and ensuring a single point of contact for citizens,” he said.

The minister added that plans are underway to automate the passport enrollment process, enabling online application, biometric capture, and home delivery of passports, thus eliminating the need for physical visits to passport offices.

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Whole addressing concerns raised by participants from various continents regarding current challenges in passport application and delivery processes, he assured of the government’s commitment to resolving these issues as soon as possible.

The former lawmaker urged Nigerians to take pride in acquiring their passports, as the new process heralds a new era of hope and progress for the nation and its diaspora community, adding that the ministry woule partner with NIDCOM.

Earlier, the NIDCOM Chairman/CEO, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, commended the minister’s efforts, highlighting the significance of the Diaspora Lecture Series in keeping Nigerians abroad informed about programmes and reforms of President Tinubu’s administration.

In her presentation, the Comptroller General, NIS, Caroline Wura-Ola Adepoju, emphasised that the new process would significantly reduce human interaction, thereby eliminating inconveniences associated with passport applications and saving time for both applicants and immigration personnel.

Adepoju said the service had produced 1,033,506 million passports in 2021; another 1,597,729 million in 2022; while a record of over 2,141,300 million were produced amidst various challenge in 2023.

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She, however, said that many Nigerians did not come forward to pick up their passports at various centres she visited recently both within and outside Nigeria, promising that from March, there will be positive improvement in passport production without going through any stress or interventions.

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NGO Warns Nigerians Planning To Japa, Says People Dying Sleeping On Streets, Housing Too Expensive

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A Nigerian, Vivian Etuka, residing in Canada, has cautioned individuals considering migration to Canada to avoid the Ontario province.

She said many Nigerians who lacked proper research and information ended up on the streets upon their arrival in Canada.

Etuka, who is the Founder and CEO of Bethel Outreach Community Services spoke in Abuja on Thursday, January 18, when she met with the Chairman and CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM).

She explained that lots of Nigerians end up in refugee camps as a result of not following the proper channels.
She advised those considering migration to Canada to steer clear of the Ontario province, citing its overpopulation and high cost of living.

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Emphasizing that settling down is easier for those with direct job opportunities, she also highlighted the scarcity of housing in Ontario, with many Nigerians reportedly sleeping outdoors in the cold.

Etuka, who is involved in caring for refugees in Canada, stressed the importance of being certain about arrangements before making the move.

She said: “I’m not putting fear on anybody. I’m saying there are right and wrong ways to move to any country. When you’re coming to any country, please make sure you do your research. And make sure you go to like if you’re coming to Canada I speak on Canada because that’s my home. Go to other provinces that are less populated. I’ll tell you again to stay away from Ontario.

Adnair “Housing is extremely expensive. I have four days ago, two immigrants that are sleeping outside passed away.
“With extreme -25 degrees, it is not good for anyone to be sleeping outside.

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“So if you’re coming to Canada and do it the right way, there are right ways to do things online how to migrate to Canada with a job you can look for a job that types LMIA jobs that can employ you before you get to Canada.

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“Don’t come to Canada and let agents deceive you that as soon as you get off the plane there are jobs. If there are jobs ready, what about Canadians out on the street?

“Don’t you think they want to work? So that should let you know what’s wrong.
“Nobody’s going to hand you a job from the airport. You’re going to have to work out to look for the jobs, and housing, you’re sharing the room with somebody paying $1,200 a month and some landlords are requesting for a whole year before you can move in.

“We have young men and women that are Nigerian sleeping on the street. I have 23 of them in a church downtown that has no washroom and they are dependent on people like me for food, clothing, and looking for jobs.

“We are helping them advocate with the government. And I implore you please do come to Canada, it is a beautiful place but come the right way. So we are not burdened trying to help you settle you and everything. It’s difficult. Immigration is expensive, is very difficult. So do it the right way and enjoy the same Canada that I enjoy.”

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