UK Scraps £3,000 Visa Bond For Nigerians

UK Scraps £3,000 Visa Bond For Nigerians


United Kingdom has cancelled the plan to impose £3,000 on first time visitors from six commonwealth countries including Nigeria, it was learnt on Sunday.

Saturday Punch had reported exclusively that UK may have suspended the plan after affected countries protested against the discriminatory policy.

The scheme failed to take off on Friday (November) as reported in June.

According to a report sighted on BBC news on Sunday, a Home Office spokesman confirmed a Sunday Times report that the policy would be scrapped.

But London Reuters said a government’s spokesman said the pilot scheme which had been due to start this month had been canceled.

“We have decided not to proceed,” it quoted the unnamed spokesman as saying.

Another report sighted on Khaleej Times reported that the AFP spoke with a Home Office spokeswoman who said, “The government has been considering whether we pilot a bond scheme that would deter people from overstaying the visa. We have decided not to proceed.”

Under the plan, visitors from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana seeking a six-month British visa would have been obliged to pay a refundable £3,000 ($4,800) cash bond to deter them from overstaying.

They will forfeit the money if they overstay in Britain after their visa has expired.

An official who spoke on condition of anonymity with our correspondent on Friday had said there had been no official communication from the home country on the visa bond which almost generated a diplomatic row between UK on one hand and the affected countries on the other hand.

He said, “We have not received any directive on the visa bond. This is an issue the two countries (Nigeria and UK) have approached through diplomacy.

“The policy cannot be implemented now because there is no official communication on it.”

A visit by our correspondent to VFS Global, the visa application and collection Centre for UK, France, Belgium, and a few other European countries as well as South Africa revealed that the policy did not begin as earlier announced.

Visa applicants and those that went to collect their visa were trooping in and out of the office after due clearance from the security men.

Another official close to the commission said, “Even at the time the information leaked, the policy was only muted; there was no conclusion on it. Up till now, there is no conclusion on the implementation”.

Inquiry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also showed that there had been no official communication between Nigeria and the UK.

The ministry’s spokesman, Ogbole Amedu Ode said he was not aware of any official decision from the UK to implement the policy after Nigeria had protested against it.

He said, “I am not aware. We have a mission in UK, if there is any development, the information will come from there. To the best of my knowledge, I am not aware.

Following media reports that the UK government was considering to impose a visa bond on 
first time visitors from Nigeria, the Federal Government on June 24 summoned the UK High Commissioner, Andrew Pocock.

The country protested what it termed a highly discriminatory policy which tends to portray Nigeria in bad light.

Pocock at a meeting with the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, on June 25 admitted that his government planned to introduce the “financial bonds as a way of tackling abuse in the immigration system”.

He, however, said “No final decision has been made”.

Ashiru who recalled days when nationals of commonwealth travelled freely to the United 
Kingdom and to other member states expressed displeasure over the policy which he said was not only “discriminatory but also capable of undermining the spirit of the commonwealth family”.

Although Pocock said the policy was still a proposal, Ashiru reminded him of the British investments in Nigeria and vice-versa.

He also warned that the government would retaliate the ‘discriminatory policy’ if implemented.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof. Itse Sagay had described the proposed policy as “an affront”.

“It is hostile and therefore contrary to international diplomacy. It is evidence of contempt and a clear case of saying we don’t want people from their country so let us make it impossible for them to come”, he had said.

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United Kingdom has cancelled the plan to impose £3,000 on first time visitors from six commonwealth countries including Nigeria, it was learnt on Sunday.

Saturday Punch had reported exclusively that UK may have suspended the plan after affected countries protested against the discriminatory policy.

The scheme failed to take off on Friday (November) as reported in June.

According to a report sighted on BBC news on Sunday, a Home Office spokesman confirmed a Sunday Times report that the policy would be scrapped.

But London Reuters said a government’s spokesman said the pilot scheme which had been due to start this month had been canceled.

“We have decided not to proceed,” it quoted the unnamed spokesman as saying.

Another report sighted on Khaleej Times reported that the AFP spoke with a Home Office spokeswoman who said, “The government has been considering whether we pilot a bond scheme that would deter people from overstaying the visa. We have decided not to proceed.”

Under the plan, visitors from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana seeking a six-month British visa would have been obliged to pay a refundable £3,000 ($4,800) cash bond to deter them from overstaying.

They will forfeit the money if they overstay in Britain after their visa has expired.

An official who spoke on condition of anonymity with our correspondent on Friday had said there had been no official communication from the home country on the visa bond which almost generated a diplomatic row between UK on one hand and the affected countries on the other hand.

He said, “We have not received any directive on the visa bond. This is an issue the two countries (Nigeria and UK) have approached through diplomacy.

“The policy cannot be implemented now because there is no official communication on it.”

A visit by our correspondent to VFS Global, the visa application and collection Centre for UK, France, Belgium, and a few other European countries as well as South Africa revealed that the policy did not begin as earlier announced.

Visa applicants and those that went to collect their visa were trooping in and out of the office after due clearance from the security men.

Another official close to the commission said, “Even at the time the information leaked, the policy was only muted; there was no conclusion on it. Up till now, there is no conclusion on the implementation”.

Inquiry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also showed that there had been no official communication between Nigeria and the UK.

The ministry’s spokesman, Ogbole Amedu Ode said he was not aware of any official decision from the UK to implement the policy after Nigeria had protested against it.

He said, “I am not aware. We have a mission in UK, if there is any development, the information will come from there. To the best of my knowledge, I am not aware.

Following media reports that the UK government was considering to impose a visa bond on 
first time visitors from Nigeria, the Federal Government on June 24 summoned the UK High Commissioner, Andrew Pocock.

The country protested what it termed a highly discriminatory policy which tends to portray Nigeria in bad light.

Pocock at a meeting with the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, on June 25 admitted that his government planned to introduce the “financial bonds as a way of tackling abuse in the immigration system”.

He, however, said “No final decision has been made”.

Ashiru who recalled days when nationals of commonwealth travelled freely to the United 
Kingdom and to other member states expressed displeasure over the policy which he said was not only “discriminatory but also capable of undermining the spirit of the commonwealth family”.

Although Pocock said the policy was still a proposal, Ashiru reminded him of the British investments in Nigeria and vice-versa.

He also warned that the government would retaliate the ‘discriminatory policy’ if implemented.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Prof. Itse Sagay had described the proposed policy as “an affront”.

“It is hostile and therefore contrary to international diplomacy. It is evidence of contempt and a clear case of saying we don’t want people from their country so let us make it impossible for them to come”, he had said.

Click here to subscribe to The Paradigm Newsletter

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