• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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The UK’s £3,000 bond

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On Sunday, the internet was awash with the reports by Daily Mail, UK and Sunday Times on the newly imposed £3,000 bond on thousands of first-time visitors from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria who plan to visit Britain. The UK government will refund the money once they leave the country in a bid to end the abuse of the visa system.

According to the reports Theresa May, UK home secretary, said the intention was to make the immigration system more ‘selective’ and deter people from ‘overstaying’ once their visitor visa has expired. In the long-term, she hopes to extend the Australian-style bond scheme to also include foreign workers and students. The scheme will be piloted from November, for people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ghana. Nationalities of these countries are being targeted because of the high volume of visitor visa applications and relatively high levels of abuse – 101,000 Nigerians were given six month visas in 2012.

May is quoted as saying in Daily Mail, UK: “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.” The £3,000 bonds is supposed to cover the costs of public services enjoyed by visitors who over stay. It is also one of the Conservative Party’s plans to bring annual net migration to under 100,000 by 2015.

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Already, this move by the UK government has been criticised as being discriminatory and there is likelihood it will face legal challenges on the grounds that it targets only people from so-called ‘high risk’ countries.

Be that as it may, there are many questions the UK government needs to answer. What happens to the interest accrued on the money while it is domiciled in their account? That means visitors to the UK will be short-changed in this regard. Raising a bond also means the visitor will be charged by his bank; hence the bond is more than £3,000.

In addition, first-time visitors to the UK, say, professionals and business people with genuine intentions, are likely to be affected making trade relation between Nigeria and Britain to suffer. This may not be a good move for Britain where Nigerians have been named its fourth largest spenders.

Also, what will happen to parents and their children who are frequent travellers to the UK to have another baby? Will they have to pay a bond for a minor? May will have to reconsider this move as there are fears it may lead to countries such as India making British tourists pay a similar bond. Nigeria may also begin to consider such option.

It is a call on Nigerian government to make Nigeria conducive for its citizens in order to reduce the number of “Andrews” seeking greener pastures abroad. If the electricity is reformed and the economy remains vibrant, Britons will be seeking to invest in the country. But the reverse is the case, we are bound to suffer this kind of humiliation.