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26th September, 2013.
London City, UK

3,000 pounds visa bond plan being reviewed - UK

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr. Andrew Pocock, has said the British government is reviewing its plan to introduce a 3,000 pounds visa bond scheme.

He also said while there were security concerns in Nigeria, they were not overwhelming in many respects and could be managed.

Pocock said this on Wednesday when he visited the Nigerian Stock Exchange to ring the closing bell, and to discuss ways in which more British companies could be encouraged to invest in the nation's capital market.

Reports had emerged earlier this year that the British government was planning to implement a new scheme under which some visitors from some Commonwealth countries, including Nigeria, would be asked to pay a 3,000 pounds cash bond in return for visitor visas that allowed them to stay in the UK for up to six months.

"In the long run, we are interested in a system of bonds that deters overstaying and recovers costs if a foreign national has used our public services," an unnamed Home Office official had been quoted as saying in June.

The development had resulted in an outcry by nationals of the affected countries with the Nigerian government calling on its British counterpart to renounce the policy.

However, the British High Commissioner, after ringing the closing bell at NSE in Lagos told journalists that, "We have made it very clear to our government in London that there is concern about this. So, this is being reviewed and considered in London as we speak now."

Pocock, who said visas were issued to 125,000 Nigerians every year, added, "If we decide that this will become a policy we will tell, firstly then Nigerian government and secondly, the Nigerian people so everyone has all the information they need. This is not a major threat to Nigerians coming to the UK; that I can guarantee."

According to Pocock, the scheme will not be a threat to Nigerians because even if it is implemented it will affect only a fraction of Nigerians who apply for UK visas.

He also clarified that, "The visa bond, as it is being called here, is not a 3,000 pounds charge for a British Visa. That is not the case, it is not going to happen now and it is not going to happen in the future. Visa fee, which is what you pay for a visa, will not go to 3,000 pounds or anywhere near it."


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