• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Japa and citizenship by investment – how to avoid being scammed

Ever growing japa

Recently, one common topic among Nigerians centres around Nigerian professionals leaving the country for new and better places outside the country, and the long- and short-term implications of the same to the country.

Some wealthy Nigerians are also seeking second citizenship in other countries. A lot of experts and businesses have suddenly surfaced too. Mostly disguised to scam unsuspecting individuals seeking to leave the country or obtain second citizenship.

So, the Japa and Citizenship by Investment Programme, the fake and genuine experts, people losing money to the fake experts, some getting desired successful outcomes from the genuine immigration experts, and people getting stuck, investigated, banned, and jailed outside the country for wrong documentations, etc., are real!

Very real is the number of scams and fake immigration experts out there. They operate like the MMM, some Agriculture Investment Tech Start-ups, and some loan sharks. You may know a couple of people who lost huge sums to these scams. With the right data analysis, I would not be surprised if the untold and unsuccessful cases due to scams are more than the successful ones.

Also, most victims involve the Nigeria Police Force. The overzealous police officers without probatory instinct, perhaps deliberate, class all immigration cases reported to them as fraud. Even in cases where the professional is genuine and thorough, the application failed due to no fault of the immigration expert. This is another wrong belief and action one must address.

Seeking Japa and Citizenship by Investment is not wrong. Just shine your eyes. The country you are seeking to migrate to, and their agents use experts, i.e lawyers here in Nigeria to do thorough checks on you, your agents, and every document you submit. In some cases, they ask them to verify if for instance, a Notary Public who notarised your document is authorised and genuine. So, why should you fail to do the same on a person or professional you are committing millions of naira in their hands.

If you are considering to Japa and citizenship by investment, these are a few practical and professional suggestions to ensure you do not fall victim of Japa and citizenship by investment programme scams.

Seek and use professionals i.e lawyers with credible reputation. Firstly, as a law firm and expert in immigration services. When you meet or speak with the experts, listen more, take notes, and ask questions. Speak with two to three experts and compare notes. This way you would have a robust understanding of the process and determine the best out of the experts you have spoken with.

If you are using individuals referred to you, do extra due diligence. Yes, such referred individuals could be reliable. So, subject them to the same standard expected of a professional or expert in immigration business because every application is expected to meet the same standard regardless of who is handling the application for you. The extra due diligence is to be sure they are not short of such professional standards expected of them by the government.

Avoid meeting such agents only at eateries, sit-outs, friend’s place, school premises, etc. The experts should have a verifiable ”convincing” business address and structure where it carries on its daily business. At least, be sure they have been there for many years. Not a contact address or quick set-up like those used by our MMM gangs, some agriculture tech start-ups, and loan sharks.

Ask questions around. You will be surprised by the amount of information on the street about businesses and experts in places they are located. One case in point was when we had to do a background check on a lawyer here in Nigeria for a foreign client. On getting to the address, we met a vacuous young lady at the reception. Although, we were not satisfied with the scruffy two partitioning office. It did not meet our expectations considering the nature of the transaction involved. We spoke to the traders and businesses within and outside the complex who gave us very credible and valuable information on the lawyer, professional expertise, and quality of services. Their feedback, mainly, plus other positive verifications erased our doubts about him.

Go as far as asking some questions from the experts about themselves. Do not be deceived by charades. Some would even claim they have office in those countries and let you meet their foreign partners. Do they have licences and permits to engage in these services, references, bankers, etc. Most countries require some licences to engage in immigration services.

Check the websites of the country and agencies of the country you are seeking to move to. Most of them are on the websites list of agencies, promoters, and marketers. Also, note the differences between them. Agents are licensed to handle all documentations and processes. Promoters and marketers are simply business developers who look for clients and pass to the agents. They have a list of blacklisted agencies and experts, and useful information for the immigration process. Compare with what you have been told by the experts.

Minimise your financial exposures as much as possible. Some of the governments of the countries and their agencies usually have space for the applicants to send some required money directly to them even when you are using agents. Find out from the experts whether you can do so, the amount you can send, if such funds are refundable, and how much, etc.

Lastly, ensure all documentations and information on them meet your expectations and the programme you have in mind and paid for. Some people are given documents processed for visitations with several oral build-ups by the agent on how the same package would work perfectly for immigration and citizenship. Keep emphasising your documentations and should speak and reflect what you are paying for without the agent or you having to explain to anyone.

Adekola, a senior associate with Berkeley Legal, writes from Lagos