5 December 2013

Nigerians to Pay UK Visa Application Fee in Dollars

Photo: Adalberto.H.Vega/Flickr
London Eye and Big Ben.

The British High Commission in Nigeria Wednesday announced a new system of visa application whereby UK visa would be paid for online in US dollars.

In a statement signed by its Press and Public Affairs Officer, Rob Fitzpatrick, the commission stated that the new system would begin on December 16.

"From December 16, all applications for UK visa must be completed using our online application system and paid for online in US dollars. Payment can be made using a Verve debit card, Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards or the e-wallet PAGA," Fitzpatrick added in the statement.

He stated that the move for online application and payment would deliver a streamlined process, adding that it was consistent with a wider global trend to online transactions and payments.

The commission explained further that that the new system had met the requirements of the UK Government's Digital by Default Initiative, expressing optimism that the system would cut cost in the management of visa operation as well as help to reduce visa fees.

The commission added that the system would be safer for customers as it would reduce the risk of handling large sums.

Earlier this year, Britain had planned to force visitors from six "high-risk" countries, including Nigeria, to pay a cash bond of £3,000, but it was reversed after diplomatic consultations.

The scheme required visitors from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ghana and Nigeria to pay the deposit for a six-month visa. They would have forfeited the money if they overstayed. "The government has been considering whether we pilot a bond scheme that would deter people from overstaying the visa. We have decided not to proceed," a Home Office spokeswoman was quoted by AFP as stating.

Reports in June said the scheme would initially target hundreds of visitors before being extended to affect several thousands.

The plan had prompted an outcry from government and business leaders in India, with which Britain has been trying to foster a closer trade relationship. Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, also said in June that the bond scheme was "not only discriminatory but also capable of undermining the spirit of the Commonwealth family."

The London-based Sunday Times newspaper had reported that the scheme, backed by Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives, had been blocked by junior coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats.

According to reports, Cameron's government was trying to show that it was serious about a promise to cut net migration into Britain below 100,000 a year by the next election in 2015, amid an electoral threat from the anti-immigrant United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

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