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 changed to protect her identity, told the publication on the narrow corridor of a food bank that she is currently destitute in the UK despite being promised a job. She said she arrived in the UK three months ago, after paying someone she referred to as an “agent” in Nigeria £10,000 to arrange a job. She however discovered there was no job for her upon arriving the country.
Blessing, who now relies on handouts from a Nigerian food bank, said she did not make the application herself because it is difficult to tell real from fake 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, a town in Greater Manchester, told Sky News that she has been overwhelmed by the recent development.
“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.”
For a skilled worker visa, the UK government charges from £625 to £1,423, depending on the applicant’s location and extent of stay. An annual healthcare surcharge of £624, and an availability of £1,270 for the applicant to prove that they can support themselves in the UK, are also required.
Interested persons are required to apply directly to the UK government while providing supporting documents.
Health and care workers represented 86% of long-term sponsored work visas granted and over half of all work visas granted to applicants in 2022, according to the UK’s Home Office.