Nigerians flock to the UK to benefit from student visa policy

The United Kingdom’s new policy on post-study work visas is proving to be popular among Nigerian students eager to permanently immigrate to that country. The UK now allows international students with a study visa to remain for at least two years after their graduation.

A UK student visa also allows family members to apply for immigration as dependants. Holders of a student visa, including full-time postgraduate scholars and some other special cases, are allowed to list a spouse, a partner or a child under 18 as dependants.

Between 2012 and 2017, the UK saw a 27% drop in international students from Nigeria. But, in 2019, the UK launched a new international education strategy.

In terms of this strategy, Nigeria was listed as one of five high-priority countries which were to be the focus of recruitment efforts, funding and new immigration routes. This strategy was revised in 2021.

In October 2020, the UK introduced a student visa with the aim of opening up its borders to more international students.

This new arrangement was seen as an improvement on the previous process (called Tier 4) as it represented a more streamlined way of sponsoring institutions and their students. It also created clearer pathways for students, the British Home Office believed.

Easier to immigrate

However, the new policy also created a golden opportunity for Nigerian students to immigrate to the UK with their families. For many, it offered an escape from Nigeria’s economic woes, including record high inflation, and a crippled education system.

Immigration reveals that Nigerians of all ages and employment status took advantage of this opportunity. One of them was 50-year-old Theresa Abraham, a senior civil servant who worked in a ministry in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos.

Abraham left for the UK with her family in July 2022 to pursue a masters degree more than 20 years after earning her first degree. She told University World News she was primarily motivated by the prospect of relocating her family to the UK.

Bola Popoaje, a banker, tells a similar story. She relocated with her husband and two children to the UK in March 2022. To her, the free education at both primary and secondary school level means that she would be relieved of the burden of having to pay for her children’s education in private schools in Nigeria.

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