Green Passport: Responsible Global Citizen?
By Tanwa Talabi
It is understandable that many young Nigerians nurture aspirations of visiting, studying or even migrating abroad, in search of better opportunities. However, it is crucial to ensure the motives behind the respective trips are truly represented throughout the application process and honored upon being issued the relevant visa. In comparison with their counterparts across the continent, Nigerians are required by the Immigration Consular for Western countries to provide more information in connection with their visa application.
The world has become a global economy thus it is paramount to acquire international exposure in order to be able to converse intelligently about world occurrences. However, the key to attaining peace of mind and perhaps success remains in the ability to embark on these trips through legal means.
Deciding to travel abroad with a visitor visa or other temporary visas and hoping to remain there illegally is highly stressful. In some reported cases, illegal immigrants have lived abroad for a substantial number of years, working at odd jobs and constantly evading authorities, only to be deported in the future. Earlier this year, in January to be precise, 65 Nigerian citizens were deported from various European countries including United Kingdom and Spain for offences including having expired travel documents and being illegal aliens.
In other cases, illegal immigrants are exploited by people who threaten to convey their immigration status to authorities if their demands are not met. Often, many return home to find their peers in positions of authority and at a higher level than they were at the time of their departure.
Though it may appear an easier route or less expensive route initially, in the long run, living in constant fear, working for less than the minimum wage or living with the possibility of being arrested and deported by the authorities, will have a negative effect on the individual’s morale.
As Nigerians, there is an increasing need to appreciate the level of importance attached to a good reputation and the need to strive to redeem our image to ensure a better future for the younger generation. In the years gone by, even as recent as the 80s, Nigerians did not need to apply for visas/entry permits to gain access to Western Countries such as the UK; instead, the visas/entry permits were issued at the port of entry.
Unfortunately, because of changes in immigrant laws and a subsequent increase in the number of Nigerians attempting to migrate through illegal routes, we now have to endure rigorous visa application and immigration processes and many citizens intending to travel for legitimate reasons are denied this opportunity.
Redeeming the image of Nigerian citizens would require awareness of the appropriate immigration processes and ensuring we follow these processes. In addition, becoming aware of the right immigration channels and endeavoring to abide by any restrictions placed on the visas will go a long way towards bringing honor back to the green passport. The importance of being aware of visa restrictions was highlighted in September 2012, when two Nigerian students in Canada on a scholarship from Nigeria faced deportation after working illegally off-campus. Unknown to them, their visa only allowed for on-campus employment.
The time has come for us to make a conscious and collective effort towards redeeming our image and regaining the reputation once attached to the green passport and its holders. Through a joint effort, we can change the perception that the western world has of Nigerians and perhaps, eliminate the generic image most associated with us as citizens with a high flight risk.
For more info, please visit Migrants Advisory Services at http://www.migrantsadvisory.com