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Nigerians and Ghanaians to be charged £3k to enter Britain

BORDER CONTROL: The Government has proposed charging Ghanaians and Nigerians a £3,000 deposit to visit the UK

THE GOVERNMENT’S plan to charge a £3,000 deposit to Nigerian and Ghanaian visitors to the UK has been branded as “unjustified discrimination”.

Under the proposal, which could be trialled as early as November, visitors from the West African countries, along with Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India, will be required to pay the bond before they are allowed to enter the UK.  

Visitors would have the sum returned to them once they leave the UK. If they fail to return home after their visas run out, they would forfeit the deposit.

Bimbo Roberts Folayan, chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (CANUK), panned the proposals.

DEPOSITS

He told The Voice: “It is discriminatory. It is an attack on our community and targets people that do not have the means to make these sorts of deposits.

“There is no way of knowing who is going to be an over-stayer so there is absolutely no business for this sort of discrimination.

“There are people who genuinely want to come for a holiday, but they do not have this kind of money. They do not want to live in the UK, they probably do not even like the weather, but they just want to pay a visit.”

Folayan urged the Government to introduce better measures to deter overstayers.

“Members of the community are aware of this and they feel very unhappy. Many of them think it unjustified,” he said.

“They think there could be better ways of approaching this problem than singling out people and asking them to deposit money. This means that those who want to visit the UK and only just have enough money for their holiday and their flight will not be able to visit their family. For example, if I have an old mum and she is unable to pay that she will not be able to visit me,” he said.

Reports suggest the five countries have been selected for the pilot due to the high volume of visa requests and higher than average levels of abuse from these countries.

Folayan added: “As a community we discourage people from coming to the UK unless they have reason to be here.

“In the past few months we have been advising the community in Nigeria who want to come to the UK that things are not as they used to be and they need to have the correct documents. We are already doing something and people are listening.”

PROCESS

The advocate for the Nigerian community emphasised that “people need to be given more information about how they can legitimately live in the UK, how they can pass through the normal process and what can happen to them if they do not follow the normal procedure.”

The controversial plans were announced last week by Home Secretary Theresa May and form part of wider Government efforts to bring down migration by the next election.

This is not the first time immigration bonds have been considered by ministers.

The idea was first floated by the then Labour Government in 2000 and again in 2008, but the idea was scrapped on both occasions after it came under intense criticism.

Members of the African community are not the only ones up in arms about the policy. Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather also raised concerns about the proposed moves.

The Brent Central MP, whose constituency has a high number of African residents, added: “It is highly unlikely this policy will prevent those who want to flout the immigration rules, including human traffickers, from doing so as visas become purchasable.

“Instead, it will be legitimate visitors who can help boost our economy who will be punished and prevented from entering the country.”

She added: “This appalling idea was rightly criticised by the Lib Dems 13 years ago as being tough-sounding but half-baked. It should be abandoned immediately.”

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