• Friday, December 08, 2023
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UK’s skilled worker visa scam leaves Nigerian victims stranded, renews struggles

Some individuals who came to the UK on a skilled worker visa are facing a grim reality – the jobs they were promised do not exist.

Among these individuals is Blessing (name changed to protect her identity), a woman from Nigeria who shared her ordeal with Sky News. Having paid £10,000 to an “agent” in Nigeria for a skilled worker visa, she arrived in the UK with high hopes of working as a carer, only to discover that no job awaited her.

“I should be in a position of helping, not receiving aid,” Blessing expressed with a mix of frustration and helplessness as she spoke anonymously to Sky News in the corridor of a food bank. Her dreams of financial independence and self-reliance were shattered upon realizing that the promised job was a mere illusion.

Blessing recounted her journey, disclosing that she had paid a significant amount to the agent in Nigeria, trusting the promise of a legitimate job opportunity in the UK. However, when she arrived in the country three months ago, her hopes were dashed as she found herself without work and dependent on handouts. The emotional toll has been immense, as Blessing, a diligent and hardworking individual, grapples with the reality of her situation.

Her story is not unique. An investigation by the UK-based news platform has unearthed a widespread issue of abuse within the skilled worker visa system. Middlemen are allegedly profiting from individuals seeking jobs in the UK as carers, exploiting their hopes and dreams.

In Greater Manchester, the Nigerian Community Centre operates a food bank to support individuals like Blessing who are struggling to make ends meet due to false promises. Mary Adekugbe, the founder of the center, expressed her concern over the increasing number of skilled worker visa holders needing support, describing the situation as “shameful.” Many who come to the food bank have skilled worker visas, reflecting the scale of the problem.

Blessing’s plight is just one example of the larger crisis that has emerged within the skilled worker visa system. People like her, who paid substantial amounts of money to secure a better future in the UK, are left destitute, turning to food banks for basic necessities and even resorting to sleeping rough.

Read also: Foreign exchange crunch takes toll on Nigerian students in UK

As stories of despair and desperation continue to emerge, it becomes evident that the issue extends beyond individual cases. Communities are feeling the strain, as those who come to the UK with dreams of a better life find themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty and exploitation. Organizations and community leaders are calling for stronger government checks and measures to address the abuse of the immigration system.

In response, a Home Office spokesperson emphasized the commitment to preventing abuse of the immigration system and stated that decisive action will be taken against employers who break the rules.

The UK issued over 170,000 skilled worker visas in the past year alone, with the health and care sector witnessing a significant increase in grants. However, the unfortunate reality is that many skilled worker visa holders are finding themselves without the promised opportunities, struggling to survive in a foreign land.