A disturbing trend has come to light as an increasing number of Nigerians are becoming prey to a deceptive scheme involving sizeable payments in naira for job opportunities that turn out to be non-existent within the United Kingdom’s skilled worker visa program.
In a recent exposé conducted by Sky News and published on Wednesday, a harrowing reality was brought to attention. Nigerian migrants are being coerced by so-called “traveling agents” to make exorbitant payments with the promise of securing them jobs in the UK. Unfortunately, upon arrival, these individuals find themselves stranded and devoid of the promised employment.
The report featured the plight of a Nigerian woman who handed over £10,000 to an “agent” in exchange for a skilled worker visa that was meant to secure her a job as a caregiver in the UK. Heartbreakingly, upon her arrival, she discovered that the job had never existed in the first place.
This report highlights the alarming abuse of the skilled worker visa system. Middlemen are allegedly receiving substantial sums to arrange fictitious caregiving jobs in the UK. Those who are unable to secure employment are grappling with survival, resorting to food banks and even homelessness.
Mary Adekugbe, the founder of the Nigerian Community Centre in Rochdale, expressed her concerns about the rising number of skilled worker visa holders who are now in need of support. She deemed this situation “shameful” and revealed, “Around 15 out of the 35–40 individuals who typically visit our weekly food bank hold skilled worker visas. We are inundated. People are desperate. It’s an incredibly worrying state of affairs.”
Jones Adekube, a community volunteer, shared the tragic tale of a homeless woman who was too shy to speak with the reporter. Adekube narrated, “Last week, we provided her with bread and tuna, as those are items she can consume without the need for cooking or heating. Initially, she was assigned one shift per week, which equated to 12 hours. However, as time went on, no shifts were available.”
The report’s data revealed that during the 12 months leading up to March 2023, a staggering 170,993 skilled worker visas were granted. Notably, the health and care sector experienced a more than twofold increase in grants, constituting over half of all work visas issued within the same timeframe. This troubling trend sheds light on the dire consequences of a visa scam that exploits the hopes and aspirations of Nigerian migrants seeking opportunities abroad.