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Six Countries Added to Visa Restrictions List

Fuad Sharef Suleman shows his US immigrant visa in Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq, on January 30, 2017 after returning to Iraq from Egypt, where him and his family were prevented from boarding a plane to the U.S. foll
Six Countries Added to Visa Restrictions List
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The United States will begin restricting visas to citizens from six other countries on February 21, although critics question the move.

The six countries are Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.

The administration of President Donald Trump is adding them to existing travel restrictions for national security reasons.

The U.S. government already has travel restrictions on some citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea.

The Trump administration announced the expanded travel restrictions last week. In a statement, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf spoke about the bans. He said: “It is logical and essential to thoroughly screen and vet everyone seeking to travel or immigrate to the United States.”

Wolf noted that some of the listed countries do not provide the necessary information about their travelers. As a result, he added, they represent a national security or public safety risk.

People from the six countries added to the list will no longer be able to travel to the United States using immigrant visas. They may, however, ask for special permission, known as a waiver.

Immigrant visas are given to people who want to live permanently in the United States. Such persons usually must be guaranteed financial support from family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents.

The ban does not affect people who have already received a visa and are planning to enter the United States. Visas will continue to be given to tourists, business travelers and those seeking medical treatment.

Critics unhappy

Toyin Falola is from Nigeria and a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Falola said, “For an administration concerned about security threats, favoring temporary visitors over more permanent ones…makes little sense.”

Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday. The Nigerian diplomat said he had been “blindsided” by the travel restrictions. But he promised to increase security cooperation with the U.S. government.

Nigeria has Africa’s largest economy and the largest population of any country on the continent. Nigeria also has a large diaspora community living in the United States.

Onyeama admitted that his country is dealing with security threats, which include the militant group Boko Haram. Violence by its fighters have displaced millions of Nigerians.

Most citizens of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar also are barred from getting immigrant visas.

The State Department says a U.S. citizen can request an immigrant visa for that person’s husband or wife, a son, daughter, parent, brother or sister. A permanent resident holds what is commonly called a “green card,” which enables the person to legally live in the country. A green card holder can request an immigrant visa for a husband or wife, and an unmarried son or daughter.

Information from the Migration Policy Institute shows that about two-thirds of “green cards” are the result of family sponsorship.

Dany Bahar follows economic and development programs at the Brookings Institution, a research group based in Washington D.C. He says that if the new visa restrictions become normal, they could cause problems for Africa.

“If you want people to be better off, let them move to places where they can be more productive,” he said. Restricting travel “will also keep talented people from coming to the U.S.,” Bahar added.

I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.

Patsy Widakuswara reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted her story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

logical –adj. something that is sensible or reasonable

essential –adj. very important, very necessary

screen –v. to examine something or someone to decide if it is suitable

vet –v. to investigate someone to find out if they can be approved for a job

sponsor v. to take responsibility for someone

resident –n. a person who lives in a certain place

diaspora –n. a group of people who live outside of the area where they had lived for a long time

talented –adj. a person with special abilities