By Emmanuel Nduka
The United States Embassy in Nigeria on Tuesday announced plans to expand its services to assist qualified non-immigrant visa applicants.
Disclosing this during a press conference at the US Consulate in Lagos, the US Mission Country Consular Coordinator, Susan Tuller informed that it commenced a visa interview waiver programme with the pilot project commencing at the US Consulate in Lagos for applicants, noting that the project was ‘no-interview’ visa renewals.
According to Tuller, the package would be limited initially and applied only to applicants for academic exchange, work, study and tourist visas seeking renewal.
Tuller however said every eligible applicant must have a previous visa that expired within the last 24 months or will expire in the next three months from the date of application.
“This is not a non-immigrant visa interview waiver process known as the ‘dropbox.’ The new application procedure will begin in February at the U.S. Consulate in Lagos and will be extended shortly thereafter to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja. The number of qualified applicants who can apply using the new procedures will be limited initially. Applicants who meet the criteria may apply in Lagos until the service is extended to Abuja,” she said.
She added that the ‘drop box’ system didn’t achieve its intended goals because it was fraught with “fraud, high overstay rates” whereas the consular unit aimed at strengthening “border security, productivity and customer service.
It would be recalled that the US Embassy in May 2019, indefinitely suspended interview waivers for renewals, otherwise known as the ‘Dropbox’ process.
It insisted then that applicants in Nigeria seeking a non-immigrant visa to the US must apply online and would be required to appear in person at the US Embassy in Abuja or US Consulate General in Lagos to submit their application for review.
In March 2021 however, when reports were rife that the suspension had been lifted, the embassy faulted the news, adding that the suspension stood.
Heritage Times had recently reported that the United States Embassy in Nigeria has resumed application of the Drop Box service or interview waiver in Nigeria. Nigeria was removed from the waiver eligibility in 2018.