Some Nigerians are reportedly stranded in the UK after paying scammers posing as United Kingdom (UK) skilled worker visa agents for non-existent jobs.
A Sky News investigation revealed that these job seekers paid huge sums of money to these agents to facilitate their trip to the UK on skilled worker visas.
One of the victims, Blessing, whose name has been altered to protect her identity, told the publication on the tiny corridor of a food bank that despite being promised a job, she is currently homeless in the UK. She stated that she arrived in the UK three months ago after paying £10,000 to a “agent” in Nigeria to secure a job. When she arrived in the nation, she learned there was no work for her.
Blessing, who now relies on handouts from a Nigerian food bank, explained that she did not complete the application herself since it is impossible to distinguish between genuine and bogus in Nigeria.
“It makes me feel as though I’m a fool. I would have done it myself but there are so many frauds on the internet [in Nigeria] you don’t know what’s real.
“I’ve always provided for myself. I’m a very hard-working, diligent person. So for me to be here depending on people to eat, coming to the food bank to get food, isn’t ok with me.
“There are so many. Dozens. I met a lot here and so many are still coming after I’ve come. There’s a big scam going on.”
Mary Adekugbe, founder of the Nigerian Community Centre in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, told Sky News that the recent expansion has overwhelmed her.
“About 15 of the 35-40 people who generally come to the weekly food bank have skilled worker visas. We are overwhelmed, people are desperate. It’s so worrying.”
The UK government charges between £625 and £1,423 for a skilled worker visa, depending on the applicant’s location and length of stay. An annual healthcare surcharge of £624, as well as £1,270 in availability for the applicant to demonstrate their ability to maintain themselves in the UK, are also required.
Those interested must apply directly to the UK government and provide supporting documentation.
According to the UK Home Office, health and care workers accounted for 86% of long-term sponsored work visas awarded and more than half of all work visas granted to applicants in 2022.