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Monday, July 29, 2013

UK VISA: NIGERIANS BEGIN PAYMENT OF £3,000 BOND IN NOVEMBER

Outcry against its £3,000 tourist’s visa bond notwithstanding, Britain will commence the scheme in the six listed Commonwealth countries in November; Financial Times report quoted the Home Office as saying.
The Commonwealth countries to be affected by the policy which was announced in June are
Nigeria, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The affected countries are considered to be source of “high risk” tourists to the
UK.
Some visitors from the six countries, under the scheme, will be asked to pay a £3,000 cash bond in return for visitor visas that allow them to stay in the
UK for up to six months.
According to official data, these six countries accounted for more than half a million visa applications in 2012.There have been outpours of anger by governments of the affected countries, especially
Nigeria and India against the policy.

The Federal Government, through the Foreign Affairs minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, had in June expressed “the strong displeasure of the government and people of
Nigeria” over the “discriminatory” policy.
Ashiru warned British High Commissioner Andrew Pocock at a meeting in the minister’s office in Abuja, barely 24 hours after the policy was announced, that the move would “definitely negate” the two country’s commitment to double trade by 2014.
The minister told the British diplomat that
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, had “a responsibility to take appropriate measures to protect the interest of Nigerians who may be affected by the proposed policy, if finally introduced.”


The British High Commission in Nigeria after the meeting issued a statement quoting Pocock as saying that his government planned to undertake “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).”
He said that the details of the pilot scheme were still being worked out and if it goes 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.
More than 180, 000 Nigerians apply to visit
Britain each year and about 70 percent or around 125, 000 of these applicants are successful, he said.

Ashiru said on Sunday that the
UK embassy had not communicated to his office the plan to commence the bond scheme.
““They have not communicated with me,” the minister said when The PUNCH sought his reaction to the latest development.
In the
UK, luxury goods retailers have denounced the plan as an “insulting deterrent” to wealthy tourists, which will hit sales and damage London’s reputation.
They are urging the government to drop the pilot, saying the restrictions will damage their business if Commonwealth tourists – particularly Nigerians, now the sixth biggest spenders on luxury goods in the
UK – are put off.

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