British PM’s girlfriend barred from entering U.S.

LONDON – The girlfriend of new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been denied permission to enter the United States because of her trip to East Africa’s Somaliland in 2018.

Carrie Symonds, who moved into 10 Downing Street when Johnson became prime minister in July, was hoping to visit the U.S. in the next few days as part of her adviser role for Oceana, a U.S.-based environmental non-profit organization.

However, the U.S. authorities have blocked her entry, according to the Daily Mail. The paper reports that during her 2018 trip to Somaliland, a region with severe political unrest and a country that does not have diplomatic relations with the U.S., Symonds met with Muse Bihi Abdi, the nation’s self-declared president, to discuss sea pollution and female genital mutilation.

The 31-year-old would have had to declare such a visit while applying for her Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Esta) to gain entry to the U.S. The screening process allows visitors to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without the need for a formal visa, as long as they don’t pose a security risk.

Declaring such a trip may have led to Symond’s visa-waiver application being declined because of Somaliland’s political instability. Somaliland broke away from Somalia in the aftermath of a civil war, declaring itself to be an independent state in 1991.

The U.K. is one of the few countries who do have diplomatic relations with Somaliland, which separated from Somalia in 1991. But the U.S. does not recognize the breakaway nation as an independent country.

What makes the issue more complicated for Symonds to resolve is that she cannot officially ask Downing Street to intervene on her behalf. Officials at No 10 stated that her new role, alongside Johnson in Downing Street, would come at “no additional cost to the taxpayer.–MercoPress