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UK envoy: No final decision on visa bond for Nigerians

The British High Commissioner in Nigeria has thrown more light on the controversial 3000 pounds bond being proposed as a condition for the granting of visitor visas to Nigerians, saying no final decision has been taken yet on the issue.

High Commissioner Andrew Pocock, in a statement after a meeting in Abuja today with Nigeria’s foreign minister, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru said “the details of a pilot scheme are still being worked out. No final decision has been made”.

Pocock added that what the the British Government has in the pipeline is ” a very small scale trial of the use of financial bonds as a way of tackling abuse in the immigration system, which occurs when some people overstay their visa terms”.

“If the pilot were to go ahead in Nigeria it would affect only a very small number of the highest risk visitors. The vast majority would not be required to pay a bond. Those paying bonds would receive the bond back, if they abided by the terms of their visa,”, he said.

According to the high commissioner, over 180,000 Nigerians apply to visit the UK each year.

” About 70% or around 125,000, of those applicants are successful. Travel between our two countries is a key part of our strong cultural and business relationship. Financial bonds would be focussed on only a tiny minority of potential abusers. It would NOT be a “£3000 visa charge” as some media reporting has alleged.”

Pocock promised Ambassador Ashiru to furnish the Nigerian government “more details of the policy”, when decided “in the spirit of our long standing friendship, and our wish to help bona fide Nigerian visitors to work, study or do business in the United Kingdom.”

The statement was signed by Rob Fitzpatrick, Head of Press and Public Affairs Section of the British High Commission in Abuja.

Earlier reports by the UK’s Sunday Times said the visa bond will come on stream from November this year and will affect ‘high risk’ visa applicants from Nigeria, India and Ghana, Pakistan, Bangladesh and sri Lanka.

Visitors aged 18 and over would be forced to hand over £3,000 ($4,600, 3,500 euros) from November for a six-month visit visa.

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

Ambassador Ashiru at the meeting with Pocock blasted the visa policy as “discriminatory”.

The minister described the policy “as not only discriminatory but also capable of undermining the spirit of the Commonwealth family.”

Ashiru told the British diplomat that Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, “has a responsibility to take appropriate measures to protect the interest of Nigerians who may be affected by the proposed policy, if finally introduced,” the statement said.

Source: PM News

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