A circular, alleged to have emanated from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) claiming to offer visas to Nigerian citizens, is circulating on instant messaging platforms — particularly on WhatsApp.
The circular, dated June 11, 2021, and purportedly signed by the director of USCIS with no name attached, offers “20,000 eligible Nigerians between the age of 25 to 55 years” a new work permit in the US.
The statement claimed that President Joe Biden signed an executive order that interested Nigerians are eligible for the “American work e-visa and residence permit”.
“President Joe Biden, the 46th U.S. President has signed an Executive Order that interested citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who measure in some special professions are eligible for American Work E- Visa and Residence Permit,” the statement said.
The fake circular
“This was communicated to the Nigerian Mission in the United States by the U.S Department of Immigration. The Terms of the executive Order allow 20,000 citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between the age of 25 to 55 whose expertise are among the following: Health Workers; Engineers; Marine Workers; Civil Servants; Business Administrators; Accountants; Lecturers; Special Skills Workers.
“Successful Applicants are required to make a deposit of $250 for English Proficiency Test which must be undertaken in America upon arrival before resumption of any official duty. Children of applicants below the age of 16 are not required to make this payment, however, couples are bound to make payment as principal applicants.”
The statement came into circulation months after the US president lifted the immigrant visa ban imposed on migrants from certain countries, including Nigeria, by Donald Trump, his predecessor.
Upon assumption of office in January, Biden reversed the ban and directed the State Department, through an executive order, to restart visa processing for individuals from the affected countries.
VERIFYING THE CLAIM
When TheCable checked the website of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it was discovered that the last news release issued by the agency was on June 9 titled: “USCIS Updates Policies to Improve Immigration Services”. There was no mention of such a visa for Nigerian citizens on the website. Further checks by TheCable also showed that the circular was not posted on the official Twitter handle of the agency on the said date.
Also, TheCable found out that a similar statement, with slight changes, had been circulated earlier in March which the USCIS denied and warned Nigerians to beware of scammers. Below are the changes:
In the old statement circulated in March, the age bracket for prospective applicants was 40-45 years as against the new one that stipulated 25-55 years.
Some grammatical errors can also be seen in the recent statement.
For example, paragraph six of the statement reads: “Applicants are advised to monitor their email always for a feedback afterwards”. Feedback is an uncountable noun and does not need the indefinite article ‘a’ before it.
In the last paragraph — “Offer Lasts until 20,000 Applications are Approved, Based on First Come First Serve. Please note that any fake documents or false representation shall apply the U. S. automatic sanctions.”
The correct form is “first come, first served” since it is in the past tense.
In addition, the US Department of State does not require immigrants to pay for an English proficiency test before travelling. As part of the requirement for some visa classes, you are required to write an English proficiency test (IELTS or TOEFL) before you leave your home country. The result will then be uploaded to the visa application portal or shown at the embassy during the visa interview.
Reacting to the circular, a US State Department official described it as fake news.
“The circulating image is fake. We advise your readers to be wary of online scams. Our websites ––ng.usembassy.gov, travel.state.gov –– and other US government sites are reliable sources of information for our programs and announcements,” the official told TheCable.
VERDICT: The US Citizenship and Immigration Services did not release any statement claiming to offer a new work visa to Nigerian citizens. All evidence points to the fact that the statement was fabricated.