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Illegal migration: “We May Impose Tough Visa Rules On Nigeria” – EU Warns

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Illegal migration: "We May Impose Tough Visa Rules On Nigeria" - EU Warns

The European Union has said it could impose restrictive visa implementation rules on Nigeria, if it fails to play its part in the return and re-admission of its nationals staying illegally in the EU.

The Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ms Virginie Battu-Henriksson, said this in an email chat with The PUNCH on February 18.

The EU, which comprises Germany, Italy, Spain, France and 23 other countries, explained 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.

Last month, the United States had imposed immigrant visa ban on Nigeria and five other countries.

The new policy will not allow affected countries 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.”

Read Also: Visa Ban: US Secretary Of State, Pompeo, Expresses Hope On Reversal For Nigeria

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 February 18, 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.

While Nigeria is struggling with the US visa ban, the EU said it could impose restrictive visa implementation rules on it.

Read Also: Nigeria Has Low Performance Metrics – United States Says, Give Reasons For Travel Restriction

Battu-Henriksson 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.

Nigerian criminal networks remain active in Europe, and Nigeria remains the main non-EU country of origin for victims of trafficking (mainly women) registered in the EU.

According to her, if Nigeria does not play its part in the re-admission of its citizens living illegally in the EU, then strict measures could be put in place.

She added that the EU could adapt the rules on processing short-stay visa applications if Nigeria failed to meet its criteria.

The EU spokesperson stated that;

What the EU can do since new rules on short-stay visas to the EU became applicable on 2 February 2020, is to adapt the rules on processing short-stay visa applications, depending on whether a non-EU country cooperates satisfactorily on the return and readmission of their nationals staying irregularly in the EU.

Under the new rules, the EU Commission will regularly assess the level of cooperation of non-EU countries on the readmission of irregular migrants. If the level of cooperation is insufficient, the commission, together with member states, can decide on a temporary more restrictive implementation of certain provisions of the visa code.

Notwithstanding, Battu-Henriksson says Nigeria remains a partner in the fight against terrorism and human trafficking, adding that EU is supporting the multinational joint task force in its fight against Boko Haram by donating 55 million euros to the African peace facility.

 

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