The United States mission in Nigeria has announced that it will prioritise applications for student visas and plan interview appointments “well in advance” of school resumption.

Susan Tuller, US mission country consular coordinator, also said on Friday that the mission “will make every effort to assist student visa applicants in a timely fashion while keeping personnel and customers safe.”

The lockdown introduced to slow the spread of the coronavirus had hindered operations at the US embassy in Abuja and the consulate general in Lagos.

However, with the next round of school resumption in September, Tuller said efforts are in place to ensure that Nigerians travelling for studies are not stranded regarding their application for visa.

A statement from the mission explained why this is priority for the US: Nigeria sends more students to American colleges and universities than any other country in Africa and is the eleventh largest worldwide source of international students to the country.

Tuller was quoted her as saying: “As we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our staff and customers, processing student visas remains a high priority for the U.S. Mission in Nigeria.

“We will increase the number of student visa appointments in May and June to ensure that we can offer appointments to as many students as possible. If your U.S. studies are scheduled to begin this Fall, we encourage you to schedule your appointment as quickly as possible.”

The consular coordinator explained that all student visa appointments must be booked through the specified US travel website.

She also warned applicants against the use of third-party services, including touts, and fixers who broker visa appointments.

“Both Nigeria and the United States benefit when Nigerian students study at one of our world-class educational institutions,” she added.

“To prepare for your U.S. educational opportunity, we encourage you to check out EducationUSA Advising Centers at our American Spaces in Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, and Calabar, or at”

In the 2019-2020 academic year, a record-breaking number of nearly 14,000 Nigerians were said to have pursued graduate and undergraduate degrees in the US.