A new report has revealed that a rising number of Nigerians are falling victim to a deceitful scheme that involves paying substantial amounts in naira for job opportunities that do not actually exist within the United Kingdom’s skilled worker visa system.
The recent investigative exposé by Sky News, released on Wednesday, highlighted the distressing situation of Nigerian migrants coerced by “traveling agents” into paying exorbitant sums to enter the UK, only to find themselves stranded and without the promised employment upon their arrival.
According to the report, a Nigerian woman, who paid £10,000 to an “agent” for a skilled worker visa that was supposed to secure her a job as a carer in the UK, has been left stranded.
The unnamed woman said she arrived only to find out the job did not exist upon her arrival.
The report showed “how the skilled worker visa system is being abused, with middlemen allegedly being paid huge sums of money to arrange jobs in the UK as carers that do not exist. Many of those who can’t get work are struggling to survive, turning to food banks and even sleeping rough.”
The founder of the Nigerian Community Centre in Rochdale, Mary Adekugbe, says those on skilled worker visas now needing support is a big issue that is increasing her workload—something she describes as “shameful”.
“About 15 of the 35–40 people who generally come to the weekly food bank have skilled worker visas. We are overwhelmed. People are desperate. It’s so worrying,” she said.
Also, a community volunteer, Jones Adekube, lamented the situation of another homeless lady who was too shy to speak with the correspondent.
Adekube said, “Last week we gave her bread and tuna because she can eat quickly without cooking or warming.
“She did some work when she came in. Initially, they gave her one shift a week, which is 12 hours a week. As time went on, there were no shifts.”
According to the report, in the 12 months to March 2023, 170,993 skilled worker visas have been awarded. In the health and care sector alone, grants have increased over two and a half times and represent over half of all work visas issued in the same period.