The Nigerian Immigration Ban and its Potential Impact on Houston Employers
President Trump’s recent decision to add Nigeria to the restricted travel list not only surprised the Nigerian government, but also many Houston businesses that provide services for the Nigerian oil and gas industry. Houston also has the largest community of Nigerian immigrants in the country, which is also one of the most educated immigrant groups in the United States: 17 percent of Nigerians in the United States have master’s degrees and 4 percent have doctorates. Many Nigerians currently work in the Houston oil and gas sector and the Houston medical center.
If President Trump’s ban is implemented as planned, Nigerians would no longer be able to apply for any visas that could lead to a green card (which, in turn, would allow them to become permanent residents). While the proposed ban would not necessarily prevent Nigerians from coming to the United States as tourists or business visitors, it would be much more difficult for Nigerians to come to work in the United States. This would affect many businesses in the United States, especially in the Houston area.
For the moment, it appears that the ban against Nigerians may be short-lived. Nigerian officials have been talking with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the United States government’s concern that Nigeria was not doing enough to share national security information about its citizens who might apply for visas to the United States, and Secretary Pompeo has expressed optimism that Nigerian visa curbs could soon be lifted. This would be a great relief to Houston businesses that employ Nigerian talent. It’s far less likely that citizens from the other five countries that are on President Trump’s list (Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan) will be granted similar relief.
This information is provided by Vinson & Elkins LLP for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.