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No, four African countries not added to US visa waiver programme

An article shared on Facebook has seemingly good news for the citizens in 10 countries who want to visit the United States. They can now travel visa-free to the US.

The undated article on a site called AP News says the 10 countries have been added to the US waiver programme. Four of the countries – Cameroon, South Africa, Kenya and Malawi – are African.

It claims US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the countries had “demonstrated beyond doubt their ability to protect their borders, raise human development index, and maintain a good passport index”.

Could this be true? We checked.

Site copies name of Associated Press


There are a number of clues to the fact that the story is false. First, the name of the website, AP News, copies the name of the established global news agency Associated Press News – or AP News.

The fake site’s web address is www.news-ap.com, while the real news agency’s site is www.apnews.com.

The fake AP website story does not have a date. And it doesn’t say when or where Pompeo made the announcement. But it does include accurate quotes from a lawmaker and a US travel lobby, making it seem credible.

The story has also been republished on the Zambian Observer, the Malawi Voice and a number of Facebook pages.

‘This article is incorrect’


The US embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, told Africa Check that the story was not accurate.

“The information contained in this article is incorrect,” its spokesperson said in an email. “The US Department of State has made no recent announcement on the Visa Waiver Program. For the official list of Visa Waiver Program countries, please see the US Department of Homeland Security website.”

According to the site, 38 countries were included in the programme, which allows visa-free travel for business or tourism for up to 90 days, as of 14 August 2018. The country most recently added was Chile, in 2014.

No African country is in the programme, nor are any of the countries named in the false article. – Africa Check (20/05/19)

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