Nigerians above age 18 years, who intend to travel to Britain may be forced to pay a deposit of £3,000 (N720,000) to obtain a six month visa, according to a new policy being considered by the government.
According to a report yesterday in British newspaper, The Independent, the new immigration policy when enforced, would target travellers from Nigeria, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India whose citizens are termed “high risk” visitors.
Travellers from the selected countries will forfeit the security bond money if they overstayed in Britain after their visa has expired, the report said.
Initially, the scheme will target hundreds of visitors, but the plan is to extend it to several thousands, according to the policy.
Last year, 296,000 people granted six-month visas were from India, 101,000 from Nigeria, 53,000 from Pakistan and 14,000 each were from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
British Home Secretary, Theresa May was quoted by the media as saying that Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party is serious about cutting immigration and abuses of the system.
“This is the next step in making sure our immigration system is more selective, bringing down net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands, while still welcoming the brightest and the best to Britain,” May was quoted as saying.
“In the long run, we’re interested in a system of bonds that deters overstaying and recovers costs if a foreign national has used our public services,” she added.
A Home Office official said the six countries highlighted were those with “the most significant risk of abuse.”
Meanwhile, immigration groups have threatened legal action over the scheme they have condemned as discriminatory because it omits applicants from “white Commonwealth” countries.
But the Home Secretary, who has overseen a fall of one-third in net migration levels, believes the moves are an essential step to deter people from overstaying their visitor visas.
A pilot scheme will be launched in November covering selected new arrivals from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana, with an eventual view to covering all people coming from those countries, reports from news agencies disclosed.
Officials said they had been selected because of relatively high levels of abuse among visa applicants.
Critics have warned that the move could backfire, with other governments retaliating and asking British visitors to pay bonds before they are allowed into their countries.
They also say it would be impractical because it would require a new bureaucracy to enforce it.
South African government also introduced similar unfavourable immigration law targeted at Nigerians last year where 125 Nigerians were deported from the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. The South African denying them entry into that country for allegedly possessing fake yellow fever certificates were not known.
However, when Nigeria government deported 131 South Africans in retaliation, the South African government apologised and suspended the policy.
Reacting to the development, Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa told National Mirror that Nigeria could retaliate.
She said: “I have not studied the new policy and I don’t understand what they (UK) classified as high risk. However, if indeed all this is true, the principle of reciprocity should apply. You can recall there was a time South Africa had some policy for Nigerians, when the then Ambassador Mohamed Marwa introduced same to South Africans coming to Nigeria; they suspended the policy.”
Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ogbole Amedu Ode (Deputy Director Communications), when contacted on phone last night said, “I am sure you know that Nigeria has a mission in the UK. By tomorrow, I will speak with the Nigerian High Commissioner in London on the matter first before I can say anything on it.”
In a related development, bilateral tie between Nigeria and Portugal may soon snap following outbreak of diplomatic row between both countries.
Barely a week after Nigeria was entangled with the East African country, Kenya, over “illegal deportation of Nigerians,” the Federal Government at the weekend refused to accept another Nigerian deported from Portugal.
The Federal Government had said that the deportation of the Nigerian, simply identified as Raymond Junior, did not follow due process.
A Portuguese plane, which registration number could not be ascertained at press time, had brought Raymond into the country from Lisbon, Portugal through the cargo session of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos.
However, officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, attached to the airport refused to accept him, citing irregular process.
A source close to the NIS confided in our correspondent that the officials on duty, after making phone calls to their boss in Abuja, ordered the plane to return the deportee to Lisbon and told the pilot and the Portuguese officials to follow the law on deportation of Nigerian nationals before he could be accepted into the country.
The source insisted that Portugal did not file a proper documentation before Raymond was deported, stressing that Federal Government only asked Portugal to take back the deportee and comply with international law before bringing him back to Nigeria.
The same situation is playing out between Nairobi and Abuja following the deportation of three Nigerians, with the Federal Government claiming that Kenya flouted all known international laws in deporting her citizens.
The Kenyan government brought a legislative order from its Minister of Interior to deport foreign nationals.
National Mirror had reported last Thursday of the grounding of a Kenyan plane with the American registration number 5Y-SAS belonging to Cavok Airlines in Kenya.
The aircraft, which is still grounded at the airfield of the Lagos airport, had arrived the country about 6.36pm on June 3 with 18 passengers, including three deportees from Kenya.