Official data shows that the number of Africans getting United States visas has been rising in the past few years despite President Trump’s campaign to restrict legal US immigration.
The number of US visas issued to Africans between 2010 and 2018 grew faster compared to the number of visas granted to immigrants from other regions, according to US Census Bureau data.
During the period, the number of African immigrants in the US expanded at a rate of about 50 percent while the population of foreigners from Asia, South America, and the Caribbean grew by an average of 25 percent.
While Nigerians remained the largest group of African immigrants in the US, the population of immigrants from Cameroon grew the highest, according to the data.
The number of Cameroon-born immigrants in the US doubled to 80,000 by 2018 compared to 2010, with much of the growth being recorded most recently.
This was mainly attributed to the political unrest in Cameroon sparked by protests against the Francophone-led government.
A majority of African immigrants in the US are mainly people seeking refugee status or asylum but a high percentage are also moving to the US to further their education.
The number of African students pursuing post-secondary degrees abroad grew 24 percent, rising from about 343,000 to 427,000, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, from 2006 to 2014. The population rose 9 percent from 2013 to 2014 alone.
A significant number of African people have also made their way to the US through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, popularly known as the Green Card Lottery.
Ghana, which is among the top five African nations with the fastest-growing immigrant numbers in the US, had the highest number of Diversity Visa applications in 2015. At least one million Ghanaians applied for Green Card in 2016.
Immigrants from African nations received the highest proportion of visas in 2017, approximately 19,000.
It is likely that the trend of visa issuance to Africans will change due to the Trump administration’s ongoing campaign to restrict legal US immigration.
Immigration experts opine that most of Trump’s immigration policies are geared towards deterring applicants from the so-called developing world.
“This seems like a backdoor strategy to discourage low-income people from applying for the Diversity Visa Lottery; we know that this President has expressed strong preference for immigrants that are wealthy, white and European,” Amaha Kassa, executive director of the nonprofit African Communities Together, said in reference to the new Diversity Visa Lottery rules.