EU May Impose Travel Ban On Nigeria To Curb Illegal Migration
As the Nigerian government continues to work toward the reversal of the US travel restriction on the country’s citizens, the European Union (EU) says it plans its own visa restriction on Nigeria to curb illegal immigrants to the Union member countries.
The EU said it may impose stringent measures on Nigerians applying for its member countries’ visa if it fails to play its part in the return and readmission of its nationals staying illegally in the EU.
The EU, which comprises Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and 23 other countries, may not impose a total visa ban or restriction on Nigeria, it could make its visas more difficult for Nigerian applicants if Nigeria failed to meet its standards.
According to a report in Punch on Thursday, EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Virginie Battu-Henriksson said Nigerians are among the top 10 nationals illegally staying in the EU.
“Nigerians still place among the top 10 nationalities detected as staying irregularly on the EU territory, although the number of Nigerians entering the EU irregularly declined drastically last year.
“Nigerian criminal networks remain active in Europe, and Nigeria remains the main non-EU country of origin for victims of trafficking (mainly women) registered in the EU.”
When asked if the EU would be giving Nigeria the “American treatment”, she said Nigeria could face a restriction if certain criteria were not met.
“What the EU can do since new rules on short-stay visas to the EU became applicable on 2 February 2020, is to adapt the rules on processing short-stay visa applications, depending on whether a non-EU country cooperates satisfactorily on the return and readmission of their nationals staying irregularly in the EU.
“Under the new rules, the EU Commission will regularly assess the level of cooperation of non-EU countries on the readmission of irregular migrants. If the level of cooperation is insufficient, the commission, together with member states, can decide on a temporary more restrictive implementation of certain provisions of the visa code.
“This could have an impact on the processing time, the length of validity of the visa to be issued, the level of the visa fee to be charged and the fee waivers. It is important to note that this mechanism does not amount to a visa ban and does not call into question the right to submit an application for a visa or to be granted a visa. It only allows for a more restrictive implementation of some of the visa rules. This concerns short-stay visas to the Schengen area, covering stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.”
Battu-Henriksson recalled that in 2016, an EU Council decision authorised the opening of negotiations on readmission agreement with Nigeria – making it only the second country in West Africa with which the EU was negotiating such a formal agreement.
The readmission agreement seeks to ensure that Nigerians traveling to the EU take only the legal routes.
It also seeks to ensure that Nigeria is able to readmit its citizens living illegally in the EU.
“It is in our common interest to work on dissuading migrants to take dangerous irregular routes to Europe and risk exploitation. Returns and readmission are part of working on this common endeavour,” she said.
Last month, the United States had announced a restriction on immigrant visa for Nigerians and five other countries.
Under the new policy, citizens of the affected countries would not be allowed to apply for visas to emigrate to the US under the policy aimed at tightening “security for countries that don’t comply with the US minimum security standards or cooperate to prevent illegal immigration.”