By Akin Reju
Global Migration Lawyer
It is no longer news that some Nigerians, old and young, are actively seeking an opportunity to leave Nigeria for greener pastures. 
Whilst some seek genuine opportunities for studies, work or family reunification abroad, others are planning to relocate permanently anyhow anywhere in frustration due to economic problems. It has been reported that due to the scurry to travel, and the looming 2023 elections, the demand for passports peaked since the beginning of this year and there is a long 
list of passport seekers. 
The cost of travel and visa procurement skyrocketed, many businesses and agencies whether or not they are in the travel industry have added visa procurement as part of their service offering. 
Scammers also joined the bandwagon, they target unsuspecting applicants via direct messaging, email ads, fake websites and WhatsApp group memberships.
Money is hard to come by and the project of relocation is costly, especially in the face of exchange rate problems. I want to point out a few things that will help you avoid immigration scam: 
1. Get relevant information. Start out by getting relevant information about the country you wish to relocate to. The more information you have, the harder it is for scammers to hit you. How is the economy of the country? Do you know anyone who has migrated successfully to the place and now lives there? Believe me, there are many countries you arrive in and you discover Nigeria is better than this !!! Remember “all that glitters is not gold”.
2.  Visas never guaranteed. Please note that visas are never guaranteed, so never seek guarantee of getting the visa from your provider. When an “agent” says your visa is 100% guaranteed, please run, it might be scam. The immigration officers who will handle the application will consider the application using some set rules and requirements. When you engage a professional, he/she will explain those requirements and the steps to you at the onset. This will hep you to be fully prepared. Answer all questions truthfully and never conceal a past visa refusal. If you are found out, you may be banned!
3.  Don’t bribe anyone to get a visa. If you are asked to pay some money to facilitate issuance of visa by an immigration officer, please run. Never give money to an agent or immigration 
“professional” for the purpose of bribing an immigration officer, it is not only illegal but it a scam. 
4.  Promises of free travel, free accommodation and free food. Some agents will tell you that once you make payment, the agency or employer will pay for your tickets, give you free accommodation and offer you free food for a few months when you arrive the country. This is too good to be true and might be a scam. Whilst some employers may provide limited accommodation when you arrive, most employers will not buy tickets or offer you free food. They  are business people and every dollar or pound counts for them.
5. No Lotteries for Canada or the USA. Many scammers send emails, short messages or WhatsApp to unsuspecting applicants with offer for Canada or US Visa Lotteries. There is 
no visa lottery for Canada. You can only migrate to Canada for study, work or when accepted as a permanent resident through their many programs. As of 2015, applicants born in Nigeria are no longer eligible for the US Diversity Visa Lottery, in some instances, they may be eligible if parents are born outside Nigeria. If you get an email or message promising lotteries in these countries, please delete them immediately and do not forward to 
anyone else. 
6. Ridiculously Low Fee. Relocation is expensive, there are many costs to consider: passport fee, visa fees, ticket costs and professional fees. If the agent asks for a ridiculously low fee 
to get your visa, it is advance fee fraud and a scam. Seek to know how much is the government fee as separate from the professional fees. Some lawyers or consultants give discounts when you are referred by a current client, but when the professional fee is ridiculously low, for example N50,000, (CAD100 or USD62.50), it is advance fee fraud and a scam. 
7.   Marriage to Foreign Lover. Be careful of offering money to agents or hustlers to help you arrange overseas marriage for the purpose of travel or relocation. Many unsuspecting young women have been sold into slavery and many more scammed in Nigeria. Immigration Officers consider many things to decide whether or not a marriage or relationship is genuine. Do not be a victim. Shine your eye!!!
8. Speak to a professional. Many final tip for you is to speak to a professional not street agents with doubtful credentials. In many countries, only professionals are allowed by the Immigration authorities to assist an applicant for immigration purposes. Be ready to ask the agency if they registered or licensed to represent applicants in that country? If they are not, please leave immediately as you may be dealing with scammers. In Canada for example, only licensed lawyers and consultants are allowed to represent you for immigration purposes. A sick person needs a doctor not a medical clerk.

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