HomeNewsUK Visa Rules to Change Soon: What Nigerians Need to Know

UK Visa Rules to Change Soon: What Nigerians Need to Know

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The UK government has announced a series of changes to its visa rules that will affect Nigerians and other foreign nationals who want to work, study, or join their families in the UK. The new rules, which will come into force in the next few weeks, are part of the government’s plan to reduce legal immigration and protect British workers.

According to the Home Secretary, James Cleverly, the changes include:

  • An increase to the minimum salary required for those arriving on a Skilled Worker Visa, from £26,200 to £38,700, starting from April 4. This means that many Nigerians who work in sectors such as health, education, and hospitality may not qualify for this visa category.
  • A higher income threshold for those bringing dependents to the UK on family visas, starting from April 11. From this date, workers will need to be earning at least £ 29,000 a year to bring a family member from abroad, up from £18,600. The threshold will rise further in the future, but no date has been announced yet.
  • New restrictions on care workers from bringing family members to the UK, starting from March 11. Care providers will also need to register with the Care Quality Commission if they are sponsoring migrants.
  • A new points-based system for students will require them to have a confirmed offer from an approved educational institution, sufficient funds to support themselves, and a certain level of English language proficiency.
  • A new graduate route, which will allow international students who have completed a degree in the UK to stay and work for two years, or three years for PhD graduates, without needing a sponsor.

The UK government claims that these reforms are necessary to reduce the pressure on public services and ensure that British workers have the first access to the job market. However, critics have argued that the changes are unfair, unrealistic, and harmful to the UK’s economy and society.

The British Nigerian Association (BNA), a group that represents the interests of Nigerians living in the UK, has expressed its concern over the new rules, saying that they will affect the lives and livelihoods of many Nigerians who contribute to the UK’s development.

“We are deeply worried about the impact of these changes on our community and the UK as a whole. Nigerians are hard-working, talented, and law-abiding people who have made significant contributions to various sectors of the UK economy and society. These changes will make it harder for them to come and stay in the UK, and will also discourage many potential investors, students, and tourists from Nigeria,” said BNA president, Dr. Oluwaseun Ogunnaike.

Dr. Ogunnaike also said that the BNA will continue to engage with the UK government and other stakeholders to advocate for the rights and interests of Nigerians in the UK and to promote bilateral relations between the two countries.

The new visa rules come at a time when the UK is facing a demographic challenge, with an aging population and a low birth rate. According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK population could reach nearly 74 million by 2036, up from the current estimate of 67 million. Net migration is projected to add around six million people, while there could be an additional one million people aged 85 and over in the next 15 years.

Some experts have suggested that the UK needs more immigration, not less, to sustain its economic growth and social welfare. They have also warned that the new rules could damage the UK’s reputation as a global leader in education, research, and innovation, and could affect its trade and diplomatic relations with countries like Nigeria, which is one of its largest and most strategic partners in Africa.

Despite the challenges and uncertainties posed by the new visa rules, many Nigerians remain hopeful about their future in the UK. They believe that their skills, qualifications, and experience will enable them to overcome the barriers and achieve their goals.

“I have been working as a nurse in the UK for three years, and I love my job and the people I work with. I have applied for a Skilled Worker Visa, and I hope that I will meet the new requirements. I also hope that I will be able to bring my husband and children to join me soon. I think that the UK is a great place to live and work, and I want to continue to serve the NHS and the British public,” said Grace Ojo, a Nigerian nurse based in London.

Source: Business Day

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