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Top reasons UK imposes visa restrictions on Nigerian students’ dependents, others: Envoy

*Richard Montgomery, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, after a meeting with Vice-President Kashim Shettima, in Abuja, discloses ‘it’s not always possible to find the housing and services to meet all the needs of all our existing student population’ amid the equally increasing numbers of visitors from Nigeria and other parts of the world to the United Kingdom

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Richard Montgomery, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, has explained the reasons for the recent decision of the United Kingdom (UK) restricting foreign students, including Nigerians, from bringing their dependents with them, effective from 2024.

The British High Commissioner,  Wednesday, June 21, 2023, after meeting with Vice-President Kashim Shettima in the State House, Abuja, FCT, said his country’s decision was not targeted at Nigerians.

According to him, the regulation resulted from the need to protect UK infrastructure from being overstretched, as the number of students bringing their family members from all around the world surged in the last couple of years.

ConsumerConnect reports Montgomery also mentioned other factors as housing and service needs of the such people, especially as they related to the surging numbers of migrants coming to the UK in the recent years.

Challenges of handling increasing numbers of migrants to UK

The British envoy admitted that the number of Nigerian students coming to the UK increased five folds in three years, just as the overall number of international students also increased withing the period.

Though this is a “fantastic success story for our universities”, it is not always possible to find housing and services for the high number of the population coming into the UK with their families, said he.

It is recalled the UK Home Office, May 2023, said it would restrict international students from bringing family members with them effective 2024 in order to stop people from using the student visa as a backdoor channel to work in the UK.

As regards whether Nigeria and the UK touched on the pressing issues of migration in the meeting with Vice-President Shettima, the British High Commissioner said the issue was not raised at the meeting.

He, however, said: “But I would like to put the media debate about it in a broader context.

“Last year (2022), for example, the UK granted three million new visas, of which 325,000 of those visas were Nigerians.

“So, Nigerian visitors constitute over 10 per cent of the people coming to London and the UK.”

Montgomery further disclosed that on the issue of student visas, “I’ll also like to provide a context.

“The number of Nigerian students coming to the UK has increased five folds in the last three years. It’s a fantastic success story for our universities.

“And we are really delighted that so many Nigerians are coming to the UK.”

He said: The issue about restrictions on people bringing dependents, that’s partly not because of Nigeria but many parts of the world, many more students are trying to bring their dependents with them.

“There are two issues here: the first is – it’s not always possible to find the housing and services to meet all the needs of all our existing student population.

“Second, we’ll have to manage our visitors’ number, we have to manage migration in and out of the UK just as the Nigerian Government does.”

British ministers, businesses ‘responding positively’ to Tinubu’s policy decisions

In a related development, Montgomery has expressed confidence that the reforms of the new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, will help to place the country on a greater path.

According to the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, the UK ministers and businesses are “responding very positively” to the first policies of the President Bola Tinubu administration, including fuel subsidy removal and unification of foreign exchange rates.

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