The United States, US Consulate General, Lagos, on Wednesday, conducted a media tour of the Consulate’s operations. The tour, as was explained by Will Laidlaw, Country Consular Chief, was aimed at making the Nigerian public know more about the operations of the Consulate so as to avoid being deceived by visa agents whom he said do not inform visa applicants right. By getting the right information, visa applicants and the general public would also be in a better position to do away with certain beliefs, which he said were misleading on the operations of the consulate-general.
To have a clearer knowledge of the workings of the consulate-general, journalists visited different sections such as visa application reception area, waiting area and visa processing area. Consular officers, including Laidlaw, Dimitri Varmazis and Amanda Roberson, explained what happens during visa interviews with particular reference to what are expected of the applicants. Laidlaw noted in particular that non-immigrant visa applications have increased over the past five years by about 179 per cent.
The Country Consular Chief said that in addition to the growing businesses in Nigeria, which results in more Nigerian businessmen travelling to the US for businesses, the increase in visa applications was also because more Nigerian students now go to the US to study. According to him, about 8,000 Nigerians are currently studying in the US.
But despite the fact that the US embassy in Nigeria has improved its services to ensure that Nigerians access their visas without stress, many people still find it difficult to do so and one of the reasons the consular officers said, was because some people are misinformed by visa agents who do not know much about the operations of the consulate-general.
As Roberson explained, visa applicants do not need to stress themselves too much over accumulation of documents during visa interviews, as they do not emphasise so mush on this. Instead, she said applicants should make effort to offer candid and honest answers to questions being asked during interviews to make it easy for the interviewers to take accurate decisions.
As the media tour came to a close, the consular officers believe that the general public would know more about the US visa process and be able to process their visas without much trouble.
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