The acme of success in Nigeria is often viewed as travelling abroad. The country’s situation – the inflation, decadence, insecurity, lack of a vibrant justice system, lack of a good educational system and lack of political will to resolve the critical issues affecting the nation – seems to be the major contributor to this line of thinking. Many, who may have once hoped that the country would become better, have lost this belief that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel for Nigeria. One would not blame them: years of gradual socioeconomic decline give one a second thought as to one’s beliefs.
This issue has led many, especially young people, into doing anything (and I mean anything) just to migrate from Nigeria. Emigrants carry out actions such as: embarking on dangerous voyages like trekking through hot deserts and boarding ships that could capsize; marrying older foreign women just to gain citizenship; and joining trafficking and prostitution to be on another land. The aforementioned are all illegal acts. That would mean that the individual would rather risk being arrested in a foreign country rather than be free in his/her home country.
The most baffling of these methods would be that some seek asylum in these foreign countries (that is, applying as a refugee, stating that your country is in shambles, either from war or famine). One might begin to wonder how creative the human mind is.
Despite these absurd and criminal ways of going abroad, there are ways to go abroad without breaking any laws. You can sponsor yourself or get sponsored by others. Both would still require you to get a travel visa from the embassy of the country in question. However, there are some countries which do not need such: these places offer free visas (no need for a visa at all), visas on arrival (obtain the visa when you arrive at the country) and e-visas (apply for a visa online). This offers travellers an opportunity for the reduced stress associated with obtaining a visa. Many African countries and others like Barbados, Iran and Dominica grant Nigerians this opportunity. Note that visas have time limits to their use; this varies according to the reason for getting a visa.
Concerning the financial aspect, one may be financially buoyant in which case, all expenses are covered personally. For those who need assistance, there are scholarship opportunities. These may be partial or full. Partial scholarships cover only certain expenses; for example, your school fees or housing or transportation expenses. On the other hand, full scholarships cover all expenses: you might only need to carry yourself and your baggage. Isn’t that great?!
These scholarships just require you to be excellent. Various countries are looking for talent for the sole purpose of improving their country all-wise. To gain their interest, you need not be worried; just be excellent. Some of the most sought-after countries include the US, the UK and Canada. This is because of their high standard of living and grandiose wealth. In converse, what are these countries looking for in an individual? Many require educational prowess.
The United States (or the US as it is popularly known) has various study visa packages to allow for greater nets for talents. The most common is the visa type that allows you into the US as a full-time college student — F-1 visa. To be offered this visa, you must have already been granted admission into the college as a full-time student; you must be proficient in English (or learning a course that leads you to proficiency in English); you must have adequate funds to complete the sated course of study (this may be via scholarships too). There are other documentation needed. There are other visa types, such as the M-1 visa and the H-1B visa that allow you to learn vocational or technical skills and work in a specialized job, respectively. The latter is usually for highly educated individuals; it sometimes covers those with a high level of experience and little education.
For Canada and the UK (United Kingdom), educational status is more stressed than in the US. This is shown by the proportion of foreign migrants that are college-educated: about 36% in the US as compared with about 65% in Canada and about 49% in the UK. This may be because US citizens and leadership are rooting more for immigrants with experience and knowledge to work in their country. This contributes to economic growth. The disparity in the figures may also be due to the difference between the number of immigrants in the US as compared to others. The numbers show that Canada focuses more on admitting those with college degrees. In addition, fluency in either French or English is needed. Those with working experience but little education might be asked to apply for a student visa to study in a college, instead of the corresponding M-1 visa of the US. Canada utilizes a point system and the aforementioned criteria contribute to your points
The UK also uses the points system. Meeting certain conditions gives you more points. These conditions include financial stability, educational background, work experience and English fluency. If the reason for travelling to the UK is for education, one needs to have been admitted into a UK university before the visa is granted. These countries show us the importance of one’s educational status and knowledge and skill set as criteria for entering their country. One must have certain educational qualifications to obtain a visa. Even winning a scholarship requires prowess in education. All this culminates in the fact that those planning to japa must commence taking school seriously, gaining good grades and attaining various skills – you could learn a new language
As we cultivate our plans for leaving for “greener pastures”, let us not just leave to develop the economy of other nations, let us also contribute to the development of our homeland. If we do not, who will?
written by Henry Agwu
for God is Love Educational Foundation