Apply for visa one year before travel, says US embassy

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Abuja-Mr Stephen Frahm, Consular Chief of  the U.S Embassy, Wednesday, in Abuja  advised Nigerians wishing to travel to that country to apply  for visas at least a year ahead  of  time.

He said this at the  embassy’s monthly briefing  which had consular operations  as the focus.

 Frahm said the number of   applicants  outnumber those that can be accommodated daily, noting that  this  contributes to delays.

 “ In Nigeria,  there are a greater number of  applicants than we have the ability to process. The number of people that can be processed in a given day is finite and that’s why it takes a long time in many instances to get an appointment.

 “ Here in Abuja,  we are able to schedule about 200; in Lagos they do about 350 to 400, so that’s about 600 a day.

“ We know that the demand is higher than that but we just don’t have the logistics to do more than that right now, so that’s why the delay.

“ The visa process should not be that last decision you make before you travel. It should be the first decision in planning. This is critical to making it possible for us to provide that service to the applicant,’’ he said.

He  said applicants should make their visa applications online and ensure they visit  the website for clarification if they had to.

Frahm also advised  applicants to fill out their applications correctly and give information in line with what they provided to make them qualify for the visa.

“ Most people are bad liars.  With the way our law is written, if you misrepresent the facts then you are not credible and we are forced to refuse.

“You may be a legitimate traveller, but because during the interview you did not present yourself correctly,  then we have no alternative but to refuse,’’ he said.

 Frahm urged  those who wished to apply for visas to the U.S not to be deterred by the processes.

The processes,  he said, were to ensure that all visa applications complied with the Immigration Nationalities Act of the United States.

He said the immigration activities were of  important commercial value, noting  that Nigeria has the highest number of applicants among the ECOWAS states with 60 per cent to 70 per cent of visa applications approved this year.

Also speaking, Deborah Maclean, Information Officer in the U.S embassy,  called on applicants to be truthful about their reasons  for travelling  in order to get a positive response from the embassy.

“You must be prepared and that includes planning in advance for your interview, having the information available for why you personally know you are going because each interview is a personal interview.

“What the consular officer would be asking you is based on what you present for information.

“If you are truthful about why you are going, the outcome is most likely going to be a positive one,” she said.

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