Liberia : US Issuing Only ‘Genuine Emergency’ Visas; Not on Trump Ban Radar

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A recent decision by the Trump administration to restrict visas for nationals of Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania, has left many Liberians wondering about their fate, weeks after the US Embassy in Monrovia, suspended non-immigration visa services.

Monrovia – In the aftermath of the recent decision by the Trump administration, severely restricting visas for nationals of Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania, many Liberians have been wondering whether the decision could eventually affect their quests for non-immigrant visas.

“The Embassy’s temporary suspension of its non-immigrant visa operations does not reflect a change in U.S. visa policy in Liberia. Applicants with a genuine emergency may request an expedited visa appointment by following the instructions at http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/lr/lr-niv-expeditedappointment.asp.”

Selim Ariturk, Public Affairs Officer, US Embassy, Monrovia

This coming just weeks after the United States embassy in Monrovia announced the suspension of its non-immigration visa operations in Liberia.

Liberians have been left in limbo with the embassy declining to offer a more detailed explanation regarding the temporary suspension.

In December, Selim Ariturk, Public Affairs Officer at the Embassy said: “We do not respond to questions on internal matters.”

Contacted this week by FrontPageAfrica for updates on the suspension of visa issuance in Liberia in wake of the recent proclamation regarding travel restrictions to six countries on the continent, Mr. Ariturk said: “The Embassy’s temporary suspension of its non-immigrant visa operations does not reflect a change in U.S. visa policy in Liberia. Applicants with a genuine emergency may request an expedited visa appointment by following the instructions at http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/lr/lr-niv-expeditedappointment.asp.”

A previous ban, introduced in 2017, barred nearly all immigrants and travellers from three African countries – Libya, Somalia and Chad – and five elsewhere. The policy sparked outrage and was revised amid court challenges before the US supreme court ultimately upheld it in June 2018.

Recently, Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued the following statement after President Trump’s issued a new proclamation imposing travel restrictions on certain people traveling from 6 countries, including Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.

“The administration’s latest set of travel restrictions, imposed primarily on African nations, are clearly motivated by racial animus and intended to discriminate against people on the basis of race, religion and national origin. We can’t ignore the context in which these restrictions emerge — just months after President Trump reportedly used the term “shithole countries” to describe African nations.

Clarke continued, “This appears to be part of a steadily intensifying campaign to block people of African descent from entering the U.S. Nigeria and Tanzania are among some of the most thriving and fastest growing economies in the world. This political reality underscores the irrational nature of the administration’s draconian policy.”

While the Trump administration has been criticized for targeting mainly Muslim nations, the recent suspension in Liberia, which enjoyed historic ties with the US has raised some eyebrows amid concerns

In its 2017 report, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recorded the five countries as among those, under the Non-Visa Waiver program, whose nationals have the highest populations of overstays among non-immigrants in the United States. “An overstay is a non-immigrant, who was lawfully admitted to the United States for an authorized period but stayed in the United States beyond his or her authorized admission period,” DHS said in the report.

While the reasons for the temporary suspension remains a mystery, speculations have been abound that the decision was taken after some Liberians working in the consulate section allegedly took bribes from applicants under the guise of being able to influence their chances of getting visa.

There appears to be no timeline as to when the embassy will resume full service of visa issuance for Liberians.

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