In a report from Sky News, one woman from Nigeria informed Sky News that she had paid £10,000 to an “agent” for a skilled worker visa with the promise of employment in the UK, only to discover that the job did not actually exist. She expressed, “I should be in a position to provide assistance, not to receive aid.” She shared this emotionally charged revelation anonymously in the narrow corridor of a food bank and is now in a state of destitution despite the initial promise of employment in Britain.

Using the pseudonym Blessing, she recounted her arrival in the UK three months ago, explaining that she had given £10,000 to an individual she referred to as an “agent” in Nigeria to secure a job as a carer in the UK. However, upon her arrival, she realized that no job was available for her. Her experience is just one example of a larger issue highlighted in a Sky News investigation earlier this year, which uncovered the exploitation of the skilled worker visa system, with intermediaries allegedly receiving substantial payments to arrange non-existent carer positions in the UK. Many individuals who are unable to find work are now struggling to survive and are turning to food banks, and some are even sleeping rough.

Blessing now relies on handouts from a food bank located in a Nigerian Community Centre in Greater Manchester. There, she receives a shopping bag containing basic supplies, and the shelves are filled with donations of bread, cereal, tinned tomatoes, and familiar African items like palm oil and beans. Blessing expressed her dissatisfaction with this situation, stating, “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 and coming to the food bank to get food isn’t okay with me. I don’t feel happy about it. It makes me feel I’m less of a person. I should be in a position to help, not to receive aid because this is not who I was back in my country.”

She also explained that she refrained from making the visa application herself due to the prevalence of internet fraud in Nigeria, which made it difficult to discern legitimate opportunities. She added with a sense of irony, “It makes me feel as though I’m a fool.”

Blessing revealed that she is aware of others who have skilled worker visas but encountered the same issue of non-existent job opportunities upon arrival in the UK. She described it as a widespread problem, saying, “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, the founder of the Nigerian Community Centre in Rochdale, expressed concern about the increasing number of individuals with skilled worker visas seeking support, describing it as a shameful situation. She noted that about 15 out of 35-40 people who typically visit the weekly food bank have skilled worker visas and emphasized that they are overwhelmed and worried about the desperation of these individuals.

The report also shared stories of others who have fallen victim to similar circumstances, such as a woman who is now homeless and living on a bus after paying an agent in Nigeria for a non-existent care work opportunity in the UK.

Additionally, the report highlighted the strain on communities where individuals are willing to accept jobs below the minimum wage, potentially displacing local employees. It also mentioned concerns about unrealistic expectations of life in the UK among those seeking skilled worker visas.

In response, the Home Office emphasized its commitment to preventing abuse of the immigration system and stated that it has robust measures in place to ensure compliance, including taking decisive action against employers who break the rules, including revoking sponsor licenses when necessary.

Source: Sky News


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