Many Nigerians are daily having difficulty getting their passports stamped with United States visa, despite having genuine reasons to travel abroad.
And the reason for this may not be unconnected with the sharp practices of many Nigerian celebrities, top bank executives and professionals over the years. As a matter of fact, the stringent access to an US visa could be traced to the very doorsteps of Canada, the country’s neighbour.
According to a source in the know, Freelanews Bureau of Investigation, FBi, was authoritatively informed that it had become a habit for Nigerian celebrities especially to obtain any category of visa under false pretence.
“Most of these guys would apply for visiting visas and on getting there, they would walk into Canada claiming asylum,” the anonymous source explained.
This casual stroll into Canada almost caused a row between the two countries back in 2018. Infact, Canada had to appeal to US officials to be stricter in screening Nigerians coming over to United States either for holiday or study.
“Many Haitians had lived in the United States for years before suddenly learning they would lose their protected status and fleeing north. But many of the Nigerian asylum seekers are arriving in Quebec with recently issued U.S. visitor visas,” said Mathieu Genest, a one-time spokesman for Canada’s immigration minister.
According to him, these Nigerians are not using the visa for the reason it was intended for and when the country started feeling the pressure, it called on its neighbour, which was always the easiest point of entry not to open its borders freely to Nigerians.
And to give credence to this, a Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer and songwriter, Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie, better known by his stage name Patoranking, is one of those penalised for traveling under pretence. The singer can no longer enter United States for now as he was handed a 5-year ban.
According information available to Freelanews, Patoranking traveled with his brother to the United States on visitor’s visa and returned into the country without him. The said brother allegedly walked into Canada to claim asylum and has stayed back since then. The former was slammed the ban when the authority got wind of it.
Osadolor Nate Asemota, professionally known as Dr. Dolor, is also one of such celebrities. He is the owner of the record label the likes of Hotkid and Teni Apata were signed to.
The entertainer entered the States with his partner without declaring at the US embassy in Nigeria that his partner was going to give birth. Not only that, despite not being a citizen, he used social insurance illegally to offset the hospital bills. It was alleged he paid around $7,000 in cash, out of $21,000 and opted for Medicaid to balance up.
“It was detected because there is no social security number to tie it to. Despite the fact that they would still have to repay the money, the U.S. government will still award them a time ban of 10 to 15years,” the source informed Freelanews.
In a related development, a Fuji musician, Taye Akande Adebisi, popularly known as Taye Currency, also ran into problems recently when he was disallowed from entering the United Kingdom and sent back to Nigeria because he didn’t declare he was going to perform for his fans on a visiting visa. He was speechless when a copy of invites printed with his picture as performer, allegedly sent to them by Currency’s aggrieved promoter, were shown to him at the point of entry into the country. He has been banned for 10years.
There is a long list of top executives of banks taking their wives abroad to deliver without coming clean to the embassy or grandmothers who traveled on visitor’s visa to take care new born only to stay back or walk into Canada as a refugee claimants.
On the Canadian side, the number of Nigerian refugee claims was already climbing worldwide, allegedly driven by the violence of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram and other problems, including persecution related to sexual orientation and religion. Infact, Nigerians were the biggest group of claimants in recent years.
A Mary Chukwuwuekezie, who once walked into Quebec with her three children after staying in the United States for 11 months on a visitor visa, said conditions in Nigeria are worsening.
“They kidnap,” she said, “They burn houses. They’ll even burn a church.”
A man who simply gave his name as Isaac, carried a single duffel bag as he prepared to move with his family into an apartment in Montreal. Many Nigerian claimants in Montreal will not speak to the media for fear of jeopardizing their status.
For six weeks, Isaac and his family have stayed at a shelter on the city’s outskirts, a onetime youth detention centre that was converted into emergency housing for refugee claimants.
“I don’t want to go back to Nigeria,” he said, “Nobody’s safe.”
He arrived in Texas on a visitor visa, he said, with plans to get another kind of visa when it expired or else claim U.S. refugee status for himself, his wife and their two young children.
No one can officially enter Canada from the United States as a refugee claimant because of the Safe Third Country Agreement, which forces people arriving in either country to make their claim where they first land. However, a way around that became apparent, when news organizations and past border-crossers on social media publicized the locations of Canada’s unofficial land crossings, opening an opportunity for Nigerians.
So when next you approach the embassy for visa, a full declaration may help your cause. Just maybe.