FACT CHECK: Has US added five African countries to its visa waiver program?
Several websites have claimed that the United States has added ten more countries to its Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
Tweets, WhatsApp messages and Facebook posts repeating claims have been shared numerous times. It was also shared on popular Nigerian forum, Nairaland.
A website, News-AP, which seemed to be trying to associate itself with international news agency the Associated Press (AP), claimed that the US State Department had added 10 countries into its VWP.
In fact, the website has reposted the article on the same site with a different image and title. Other clear indications that this is fake are the lack of a byline and published date.
It has also listed several countries in its recycled fake story.
In its latest post, the website listed five African countries, Cameroon, South Africa, Kenya, Seychelles, Malawi, alongside Argentina, Uruguay, Jamaica, Hong Kong, and Georgia.
The information is not true. While American president Donald Trump is planning an overhaul of the country’s immigration system, there is nothing to show that the countries mentioned in the report have been added to the visa waiver list.
Moreover, the U.S. Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago has tagged the claims as “fake news”.
“Don’t be fooled by fake news, there’s no expansion of the U.S. visa waiver program at this time,” the embassy said on its official Facebook page with the link from one of the websites.
Checks by The Guardian found that the fake site, News-AP, was only created on April 22.
The Guardian also gathered that other websites identified as CBTV, Hirunews, and Malawivoice also published the fake story.
While the CBTV reported that Argentina, Uruguay, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Malaysia, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Seychelles, Cayman Islands and Georgia have been granted the waiver, Malawivoice listed Argentina, Uruguay, Ethiopia, South Africa, Malaysia, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Seychelles, Malawi and Georgia.
The websites published fabricated quotes from Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. The websites reported that the addition of the countries is part of series of transformations the U.S Visa Waiver Program is going through.
Hirunews, a leading news platform in Sri Lanka which is under Asia Broadcasting Corporation (Pvt) Limited (ABC), has since deleted the story.
However, checks by The Guardian showed that the platform published the story on Thursday, according to Google search result.