There is no “Drop Box” Visa processing in Nigeria, says the United States Mission.
According to a short communique on Friday, the U.S Mission stated that despite recent media reports, the nonimmigrant visa interview waiver process, popularly known as the “drop box,” has been discontinued in Nigeria since 2018.
The Mission says the State Department continually evaluates each country’s eligibility based on numerous factors including overstay rates and visa-related fraud.
AFP’s fact-check service debunks misinformation spread online. Here are some of our recent fact-checks:
1. COVID-19 vaccine does not cause female sterilization
A screenshot of an article has been shared thousands of times on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which claims that the head of Pfizer Research has found that the company’s Covid-19 vaccine leads to female sterilization. This claim is false: medical experts have stated that there was no evidence of sterilization during the clinical trials. In addition, the researcher cited in the article left the American pharmaceutical company in 2011.
2. Pakistan soldiers defending border
A photo of three soldiers in a frozen river has been shared hundreds of times in Facebook posts that claim it shows Pakistani soldiers defending their border at the Siachen glacier near India. The claim is false. The photo is actually an 2015 Associated Press image that shows South Korean soldiers at a winter training exercise.
3. Maradona’s funeral
A video has been viewed hundreds of times in multiple Facebook and Instagram posts which claim it shows the funeral of football legend Diego Maradona, who died in November 2020. The claim is false: the video actually shows a presidential campaign rally in Argentine capital Buenos Aires for Marucio Macri, who ran for reelection in 2019.
4. Antiseptic card hoax
Hundreds of posts shared on Facebook claim that “antiseptic cards” can help prevent Covid-19 infections if hung around the neck. Medical experts have stated that there is no scientific evidence to substantiate claims that these cards protect the wearers from Covid-19 and have advised against wearing them. These cards contain chlorine oxide and can cause severe respiratory difficulties to the wearers.
5. Canadian e-visas for Nigerians
Multiple posts shared hundreds of times on Facebook claim that Canadian prime minister Justin Turdeau signed an executive order granting Nigerian professionals extended e-visas for a limited amount of time. This claim is false. The Nigerian High Commission has refuted these claims on their social media pages. The photos shared alongside the misleading posts appear to be from a signing ceremony.
Harvard and MIT asked a court Wednesday to block an order by President Donald Trump’s administration threatening the visas of foreign students whose entire courses have moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The universities’ lawsuit was in response to an announcement Monday by the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) that the affected students must leave the country or transfer to a school offering in-person tuition.
“We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students, and international students at institutions across the country, can continue their studies without the threat of deportation,” Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said in a statement.
ICE said in its announcement the State Department would not issue visas to students enrolled in programs that are fully online for the fall semester and such students would not be allowed to enter the country.
Universities with a hybrid system of in-person and online classes will have to show that foreign students are taking as many in-person classes as possible, to maintain their status.
The measure was seen as a move by the White House to put pressure on educational institutions that are adopting a cautious approach to reopening amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“The order came down without notice — its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness,” Bacow said.
“It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors and others,” he added.
The universities say in their lawsuit that the order would harm students “immensely,” both personally and financially.
It describes the order as “arbitrary and capricious.”
The plaintiffs ask that the court issue a temporary restraining order and “permanent injunctive relief” preventing the policy being enforced.
They also ask that the order be declared unlawful, that their fees are covered, and that they receive any other relief that the court deems appropriate.
The lawsuit, filed in a Massachusetts district court, lists the defendants as ICE and the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Most US colleges and universities have not yet announced their plans for the fall semester but Harvard University has said all its classes for the 2020-21 academic year will be conducted online “with rare exceptions.”
It says packed classrooms would endanger the health of students and teachers.
The United States government has called on health experts seeking to work in the country to apply for visas.
It made the call in a statement on Friday, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has killed many people with thousands infected in that country.
“We encourage medical professionals with an approved U.S. non-immigrant or immigrant visa petition (I-129, I-140, or similar) or a certificate of eligibility in an approved exchange visitor programme (DS-2019), particularly those working to treat or mitigate the effects of COVID-19, to review the website of their nearest embassy or consulate for procedures to request a visa appointment,” the statement published on www.travel.state.gov said.
The US also asked other foreign medical professionals already in the country to consult with their sponsor to extend their programmes in the country.
It noted that ‘J-1 programme’ for foreign medical residents can be extended one year at a time for up to seven years.
The government, however, explained that the expiration date on a visa does not determine how long a foreigner can stay in the US.
The United States on Sunday indefinitely suspended handling all regular visa applications in Turkey, dramatically escalating a row after one of the mission’s Turkish staffers was arrested.
The Ankara embassy said in a statement that until further notice none of its missions in Turkey would issue non-immigrant visas.
“Recent events” had forced the US government to reassess Turkey’s “commitment” to the security of US mission services and personnel in the country, it said.
In order to minimise the number of visitors while the assessment is carried out, “effective immediately we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all US diplomatic facilities in Turkey,” it said.
Non-immigrant visas are issued to all those travelling to the United States for tourism, medical treatment, business, temporary work or study. Immigrant visa services are only for those seeking to live in the US permanently.
Beyond mentioning “recent events”, the statement made no explicit mention of the the arrest by Turkish authorities of a local Turkish staffer working at the US consulate in Istanbul.
The employee was remanded in custody by an Istanbul court late Wednesday on accusations of links to the group of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for last year’s failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The staffer has been formally charged with espionage and seeking to overthrow the Turkish government.
The US embassy on Thursday said it was “deeply disturbed” over the arrest and rejected the allegations against the employee as “wholly without merit”.
The statement also condemned leaks in the local press which it said came from Turkish government sources that were “seemingly aimed at trying the employee in the media rather than a court of law.”
But Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has defended the arrest, saying “there must be serious evidence” and pointing to a phone call made from the Istanbul consulate to a key suspect on the night of the coup.
That latest arrest also came after a Turkish employee at the US consulate in the southern city of Adana was arrested in March on charges of supporting the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The Adana region is home to the US airbase at Turkey’s Incirlik military airport, where dozens of American nuclear missiles are stored and which serves as a key hub for operations in Syria.
– ‘Scandalous decision’ – The suspension in accepting applications for and issuing all normal visas is extremely unusual. US missions in Moscow in August suspended the issuing of non-immigrant visas for nine days and then scaled back operations.
There has yet to be an official reaction from Ankara but the pro-government Yeni Safak daily described it as “a scandalous decision from the United States”.
The issue has added yet another bone of contention in the increasingly troubled relationship between Washington and Ankara.
Turkish officials had expressed hope of a new page in Ankara-Washington relations under President Donald Trump.
Turkey has pressed Washington for the extradition of the Pennsylvania-based Gulen, who denies any link to the coup bid.
The lack of movement on the issue has further strained ties already fraying over Washington’s support for a Syrian Kurdish militia Ankara deems to be a terror group.
Meanwhile, members of Erdogan’s security detail were indicted by US authorities after clashes with protesters during an official visit this year, infuriating the Turkish president.
American pastor Andrew Brunson, who ran a church in the western city of Izmir, has been held by Turkish authorities since October 2016 on charges of being a member of Gulen’s group.
Erdogan suggested last month that Turkey could release him in exchange for Gulen but Washington showed little interest in the proposal.