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News Report: 71% Nigerian Students, Others Denied US Visa In 2022 – Report

  AUGUST 12, 2023 | EASTERN PILOT Report By: Temitayo Jaiyeola | The United States denied 71 per cent of students in Nigeria and other West ...



Report By: Temitayo Jaiyeola |

The United States denied 71 per cent of students in Nigeria and other West African countries visas in 2022, according to a report by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. The report, titled, ‘Shorelight,’ revealed that West Africa had the highest visa refusal rate on the continent in 2022. Central Africa had a refusal rate of 61 per cent, Northern Africa had a refusal rate of 49 per cent, Eastern Africa had a refusal of 48 per cent, and Southern Africa had a rate of 16 per cent.

The report noted that “The visa denial rates for Southern Africa are in fact among the lowest in the world, paralleling those of Europe. “If Southern Africa is excluded from the mix, the denial rate for the rest of Africa increases to 57 per cent as compared with 54 per cent overall.” According to the alliance of American college and university leaders, data from MPOWER Financing for international students who obtain financing to study in the U.S. revealed a similar pattern.

It stated that of the 3,000 students from Sub-Saharan Africa admitted for graduate studies to a top U.S. university in 2022, only about 60 per cent were granted a student visa to the US despite being admitted and having secured the required funding. It said this translated to a denial rate of 40 per cent, compared to 30 per cent for India, and 10 per cent for students from China and Brazil.

Commenting on the difficulty of getting a US visa from Nigeria, the alliance said, “MPOWER further reports that first-hand accounts from African students suggest a range of barriers related to the visa interview process, from securing visa interview slots in the first place to having to travel to a second country due to the unavailability of adequate interview slots in Nigerian cities, and to ultimately being held to a higher standard by U.S. immigration authorities than their peers from other emerging markets.”

The alliance argued that while there have been concerns about fraud, many students are actually victims, rather than perpetrators of fraud. It said the high visa denial rates had reportedly resulted in African students falling victim to con schemes by fraudulent actors who offer false guarantees for securing a visa.

Over 137 students sponsored abroad absconded — TETFUND

The Executive secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Sonny Echono, says over 137 students sponsored abroad by the fund absconded. Echono spoke on Tuesday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Ad-hoc committee investigating the alleged mismanagement of N2.3tn tertiary education tax by TETFund. He stressed that the scholars who were sponsored by TETFund for “higher education” abroad refuse to return to the country after completing their programmes.

The Executive Secretary said, “Some of the scholars that have been sponsored, unpatriotically when they go, they enjoy our scholarship, acquire a higher degree, then refuse to come back, it has become a major crisis. “The scholarship requires that you will come back. It is required that you have a guarantor and in many cases, the guarantor has suffered undue hardship because when you disappear, we hold the guarantor to pay all the money expended on your behalf but that has not been effective.”

Echono said TETFund is working with stakeholders for “stringent and effective measures” to be taken against those who refuse to return to the country for Nigerians to benefit from their expertise. “We believe that in a system where we work with our embassies and the institutions, we can enforce the repayment for those who insist they will not come back,” he said. He added that if the scholars who don’t want to return to the country refuse to repay the money expended on their programmes, they will be declared persona non grata.

Echono said, “We will write to the embassies and they will make it available to those countries and they will not be able to get jobs. They will be seen as fugitives of law from their countries. “We may have to take that hard stand because the numbers are alarming. We just checked about 40 institutions and over 137 absconders and the review is ongoing. “It is a huge number that we cannot afford and so we will be seeking your support to strengthen some of the existing regulations to ensure that those who benefit from this programme must come back. “We are not against people looking for greener pastures but do so on your own, not through our scholarship or our sponsorship.”

The Executive Secretary said TETFund may suspend foreign scholarship due to the exchange rate crisis. Echono said that some of the taxes are paid to TETFund in foreign currencies at the account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria but when fees are to be paid for scholars abroad, the apex bank insists on TETFUND sourcing Forex by itself. He added, “We operate a system where our forex is being sold on our behalf at an official rate and we apply like anybody else to get it, sometimes it leads to additional cost.

“Currently as I speak, we are in consultations with all our stakeholders to suspend foreign training for a year or two. “This is because of the recent exchange rate adjustments. We are unable to continue based on our disbursement guidelines. “The money we allocated in naira cannot cover the dollar requirement for training. For those who are currently there, we now need more naira to pay for the dollar that is required for their annual fees. We are trying to put a hold.” He said most of our training will now be done locally through “our experienced, first-generation universities and other specialised universities” in the country. “This way we can retain our resources in-house and cope with the change of foreign exchange variation,” he added.

Echono also said the federal government was owning TETFund N371.3 billion out of which it has repaid N46 billion so far. He also denied the allegations that TETFund mismanaged the N2.3tn fund. Meanwhile, Oluwole Oke, chairman of the committee, said the probe is not to witch-hunt, adding that the lawmakers are out to stop the misuse of public funds.


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