UK will continue to process work, student visas for Nigerians despite Omicron ban

The United Kingdom (UK) announced on Monday, December 6, 2021 that it will continue to process certain categories of visas for Nigerians despite a recent travel ban.

The UK last week put Nigeria on its red list of countries from which foreign travellers are not allowed entry due to panic over the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

A statement released on Sunday, December 5 had noted that visitor visa applications was suspended till the travel restriction is lifted.

This affects foreigners hoping to travel to the UK for tourism, visiting friends, short-term business activities, and for medical reasons.

The British High Commission on Tuesday clarified that the freeze will not affect other categories like student visa, work visa, or permanent residence visa.

Successful applicants are to quarantine in a managed facility once they land in the UK, a process that also applies to citizens and permanent residents that have travelled through a red list country in the past 10 days before arrival.

Canada was the first to put Nigeria on its red list last week, allowing entrance only for citizens and permanent residents.

It’s unclear where or when the Omicron variant first emerged, but it has created a global panic since South African health officials first reported it two weeks ago.

The emergence of the variant has led to a flurry of travel bans, mostly affecting African countries, with cases already detected in over 30 countries, many of them in Europe.

The travel restrictions that have especially targeted African countries have been widely-criticised as discriminatory and hysterical by top regional and global health officials.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Monday said it was ‘unjust, unfair, punitive, indefensible, and discriminatory’ and not based on science.

“Instead of these reflex responses that are driven by fear, rather than science, why can’t the world take a serious look at the issue of access to vaccines, and ensure that it is based on the principles grounded in the right of every human to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, political belief, economic, or any other social condition,” he said.

The minister especially called on the British government to urgently review the decision to put Nigeria on its red list and reverse it immediately.

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