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Nigerian applicants to US universities complain about visa hurdles

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Nigerian students, who have been admitted to US universities for admissions from August to September, have expressed fears that they will not be able to fulfill their ambition to study abroad due to their inability to successfully book appointments. you for a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in the country. .

The applicants, in a conversation with our correspondent, said that they had applied for admission for graduate and postgraduate studies at various institutions in the United States earlier this year, after which they had been admitted for the windows of spring and fall admission. They then received I-20 forms, which allowed them to schedule an interview.

However, securing interview dates after paying the necessary fees required by the US Consulate was a serious hurdle.

While the respective institutions they applied to are expected to resume classes between August and September, the applicants have yet to set dates for their visa interviews. The lucky ones were assigned interview dates that exceeded their recovery dates.

The clueless candidates who spoke to the punch expressed their displeasure with the development, as they claimed they spent a lot of money before they got to the maintenance stage.

A candidate who gave his name simply as Francis, said: ‘I started the process earlier this year with the expectation that it should be concluded within the next three to four months but, to my surprise, the Embassy did not provide a date for the interview. . They usually make emergency arrangements for students who need to resume before our resumption dates, but now the embassy is not doing anything to resolve the issues, which means there are no emergency dates for go to appointments to be interviewed. This I-20 that I hold expires after school resumes and it costs so much to get another I-20 which is another letter of admission after deferring this one. I think the US Embassy needs to do something about this considering the money I spent on this process.

Another applicant, a Tunde, noted that his visa interview date was scheduled for December but he is expected to return to his US school in August. He described the situation as an automatic cancellation of his admission.

He said: “My resume date is August 15 and they have decided to schedule my interview for November. It’s like an automatic cancellation when they already told my agent not to book 60 days before resuming. We’re not saying you should give everyone a visa, but try to free up appointment dates. It is a conspiracy against us because they think the Universities Academic Staff Union (in Nigeria) is on strike and every student wants to leave the country. I spent almost 1 million naira. My parents are disappointed but hope that everything will work out because it was for my best that they decided that I should go abroad.

Our correspondent has learned that the Embassy launched a policy on May 22, asking potential visa applicants to make an appointment 60 days before the date of resumption of admitted school. The period allows students to book an emergency appointment.

Stephen, who is also a candidate, said: ‘Last year’s appointment laws said you can make an emergency appointment 120 days before the effective resumption date. But this year, the US Embassy has a policy in place that you can only book the emergency appointment two months in advance, or 60 days before your pick-up. And to our surprise, most of us are scheduled to resume in August, which means two months start in June. We made an appointment and the date given to us is between October and November. That means I have to defer admission and look for another I-20. So all we are asking for is an earlier date before our school resumes. Giving me a date after my resume is no longer an emergency appointment, and the same embassy will not accept an expired I-20. An emergency appointment used to take no more than two weeks, but now it takes more than four months.

An education consultant, Ayeni Oluyemi, who helps applicants process applications to US universities, has complained that the development has left applicants stranded.

He said: ‘Students have spent a lot and most of these documents have expiry dates. Visa fees expire in one year. The sevis fee expires in two years, while the i-20 expires on the day school resumes. So what is the fate of those who have already been admitted? Most of these students are postgraduates and they are looking to have a different experience than their first degree.

Emergency appointment

Another consultant, Mr. Tobi Ajibade, said, “This has never happened before; a situation in which a student has requested an emergency appointment (visa appointment) and he or she is denied. They should tell us what’s going on. Is it a matter of diplomacy or what? I’ve been with this company for 15 years and have never requested an appointment for a student and they’ve been declined.

Ajibade, however, revealed that the consulate often releases names under emergency conditions.

He said: “There are instances where they release names for emergency appointments on Saturdays and Sundays. They do it when there are problems like this. But it’s still very chaotic. They can interview about 500 students in one day.

Also speaking to our correspondent, Mr Félix, an educational adviser who claims to have handled the request of almost 60 people, said his clients were starting to lose confidence in him.

“I’ve been doing this job for over 15 years and I’ve also received referrals. But what is happening now has begun to discredit my efforts. The people I signed up started grumbling. Some have already concluded that I had scammed them. Without my track record, it would have been worse. I also wonder why the embassy still collects money from students. As I speak to you, students are still going to the bank to pay the application and sevis fees. They should advise them to stop paying; no meeting again this year. An average candidate has spent up to N600,000 before reaching this stage. Paying sevis fee is N200,000 while visa fee is N68,000 but there is no hope.

Reacting, a Lagos-based lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, said the problem of students seeking to study abroad in the first place is a problem fundamentally rooted in the country’s chaotic education system. added that the government has lost its credibility to provide solutions in the education sector.

He said, “The leprosy of our problem is our chaotic education system. Students and parents who are looking for a way out of our chaotic education system may not see it the way I see it now because they just want how they can improve their own lot academically because our education system is in a state of perpetual crisis. So they are looking for a way out. They want to study abroad. So if they have problems at the embassy, ​​they have to look for a way out by all means.

The legal scholar said that although the Nigerian government has lost its credibility to intervene for its citizens, it remains the only recourse of the petitioners to find a solution to the problem.

He said, “Nigerian parents cannot hire this government on their own. Is it a country that cannot quickly issue a passport to its people? Or a country that has no credibility to hire a foreign government that would say please expedite the way you grant visas to Nigerians so they can study abroad? Wouldn’t that be self-mockery? The truth is that the entire visa application process is based on their policy. It’s based on how many people they can take. If the anger is that they don’t tell us the truth about the possibility of granting visas to applicants then parents should engage the minister of foreign affairs so they can wade through and then from government to government there may be have a diplomatic discussion around this problem and then a solution can be found.