Jonny Baxter, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, shared with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the United Kingdom issued approximately 132,000 visas to Nigerians during the first half of 2023.
Baxter disclosed this information during an interview with NAN in Lagos recently.
However, he was unable to provide immediate statistics regarding the total number of visa applications received from Nigerians during the first half of the year.
“In the first half of this year, we approved around 132,000 visas, and those are all sorts of visas which include visit, work and study visas.
“If you think about Nigeria’s population, relative to the world, that’s actually a higher proportion of Nigerians taking up those visas and coming to the UK which I view is a good thing.
“The UK has a huge number of Nigerian students in the country, and in terms of foreign students in the UK, Nigeria is second only to India.
“We welcome and value the many Nigerians that we have coming to the UK to study or settle, as long as they are coming through legal routes, and it is important that the country’s rules are followed and respected,”
UK’s policy change in students bringing dependents into the UK
The British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos reiterated that changes in the rules regarding students bringing dependents were driven by international challenges.
He noted, “In 2019, Nigerian students going to the UK brought in 1,500 dependents.
By 2022/2023, that number has risen to 52,000 dependents, that’s a massive increase.
Nigeria is not unique, as it has happened for many other countries and indeed, this change on the dependents is an international challenge.”
He stated that it was understandable that the UK, being impacted by this influx of individuals, would review, and amend its policies.
In his words, “It is not surprising that a country, Britain in this case, that is facing that kind of change to the numbers of people coming into the country, wants to look at the policy and would want to change and amend their policy.
“This is definitely not a case of saying that we don’t want students to come, we definitely want students still to come, and the new policy would come in in January 2024.”
UK visa fees
Baxter disclosed that the United Kingdom reviews its visa fees on a regular basis to cover the costs associated with visa processing. He added that some visa fees contribute to covering the costs of services that certain visa holders may require while in the UK.
“What the British government has decided to do is they review fees all the time, and they’ve decided that because of the cost of processing visas, those costs that people applying for visas need to pay should go up as well.
“The other thing that I think is probably not often recognized is that, for some of those people who are going to the UK and are in some limited circumstances, those people will access services when they are in the UK and those services cost money.
“So, part of the money out of the fees in the visa process will be to pay for those services that in certain circumstances, some people may need to access when they’re there. So, for me, that’s an entirely justifiable thing.
“But I completely understand it is important for us to explain it so people understand the reasons for the increment.”
Advice for visa applicants
Jonny Baxter advised the public to apply for visas well in advance of their planned travel dates, emphasizing the existence of specific processes and timeframes for visa issuance.