On immigration

Adaeze wrote about this topic some weeks back, and I left a lengthy comment on the topic. She mentioned how her brother in law was going to try to find his way to Canada because he felt that he could do better for himself outside of Nigeria (though from what I gather from Adaeze’s post, he was doing ok in Nigeria).

This is an issue that I suspect a lot of Nigerians who are living abroad as citizens or landed immigrants in another country have to face: you have family who want to join you abroad, or want to go abroad to another country, and they want you to help them, which is not a problem.

To me the problem comes when you tell your family members what they need to do and they refuse to do it because they think there is a faster way that disregards the rules and regulations of the country. They think you’re making their life unnecessarily difficult just for fun, by requesting they do this, that and the other thing. They want the quick fix, the easy way out, even though they know you got here the old fashioned (hard) way. (Please note I am speaking only from my family’s personal experience, and not saying that all Nigerians are like this.)

I take no credit for ending up in North America: my family ended up here due to my father’s educational pursuits. When relatives ask my father how they can come here, he tells them they can either come with the goal of studying, in that case they need to obtain enrollment in a school and if they pick a school in an area close to our family, then we can help out as much as we can by providing a roof over their heads and food. If they pick a school that is not in the same city or country as we are, our ability to help financially diminishes to somewhere near zero. This is not out of selfishness, but a simple fact that the money earned can only be divided a certain amount of ways. Alternatively, they can be sponsored, but in order to be sponsored, they need to prove to the government that they have something to bring to the country (a trade, skill or profession) that the country lacks and is recruiting for. With these tough economic times it’s easy to see that if your plan is to come here and find “any old job” once you arrive, you will have a hard time getting any country to welcome you with open arms.

These facts have been explained to curious family members again and again for over 20 years and they still don’t believe us. They think we’re deliberately trying to keep them from “enjoying” as we are apparently doing here. Like I’ve said before, we certainly have some perks here that we tend to take for granted after a while (decent roads, running water, constant electricity) but these things must be paid for. The lifestyle here is more stressful (how else do I explain the fact that both of my parents have more grey hairs than (in my mom’s case her mother and her two aunts, and in my dad’s case his two older siblings?). The family members pestering us the most are the ones who don’t have a plan. They seem to think that stepping foot on foreign soil automatically deposits thousands of dollars in their pockets. It’s frustrating.

In the years that we have been going back and forth with some family members, they could have done what they needed to have the educational requirements and be in a much better position to succeed with their application. Instead they continue to ask for the impossible, and try some questionable things, as if they think we have the authority of the Canadian border patrol officers or something.

We dealt with a situation in the recent past that will forever make us wary of getting involved with family members who claim they only want to visit yet do not trust that we are giving them the whole truth about how they can come here legally, who do not familiarize themselves with the documents we have sent them, who do not have a plan once they arrive here and who do not necessarily have the intention of keeping their dealings while here legal and above the law. One thing that I am grateful to my parents for is their firm belief that even if it will take longer, be more strenuous or trying, or cost more money we will abide with the law.

Has anyone else dealt with this? How do you (or have you) deal(t) with family members who want your help for immigration purposes, yet are unwilling to do their own part?

21 thoughts on “On immigration

  1. Maybe I was in the group of peeps who felt bailing out of Nigeria made a whole lot more sense than sticking it out.. Had a fairly decent 8-5 job in Nigeria that allowed me to self fund an MSc in the UK and all that.. But for me it was part nostalgia – i have family who bailed to Canada when I was 11 and I have fantasized about Canada since then – and part frustration at the brazen way 'expats' who knew less than we Nigerians at work were made to look so much better cos of the fancy certifications they had at the end of their names, and just because they had non-Nigerian passports!

    If my MSc soujourn has shown me something, its that opportunity is not location specific . My bestie/ class comedian put approx the same amt of momney I'm spending on an MSc on his trucking buisness in Nigeria – in 7 months its grown to 30+ employess and he's seriously considering quittinng his day job in mid-level management at one of the bigger Naija banks..

  2. You know how it is with all humans…the grass is always greener on the other side…

    When I tell people what they need to do and explain that it can actually be stressful etc, once I start getting the "yeah whatever" look from them…I don't even bother anymore…after all, they say seeing is believing abi? oya now…let them come and believe…at least I've told them my church mind!!!

    Anyways the rules/laws are tighter now in the UK and getting absolutely ridiculous…

  3. Wow you hit the nail right on the head. Said everything that's been on my mind for the past couple of months.

    It IS a huge problem for several reasons. If you view the bigger sociological picture – people in general have incorrect/crooked pictures of the "West" in their head. That leads to giving their relatives a lot of wahala and sometimes it scares those relatives away (like my husbands uncle who hasn't gone back in 30 years now). I think this is all connected to the brain drain of Africa as well. Everyone just runs away and only a small percentage goes back to try to contribute. I really DO understand that because it is a mountain of challenges and incredibly difficult.

    I know an older Igbo man who lived here in Norway for over 20 years – he became a citizen, got a powerful education and plenty of funds – 2 apartments. He is now a prominent figure within the environmental movement. He decided to go back to Nigeria and live in Abuja starting a new business developing environmental power plants on the countryside of Nigeria. He's lived there for almost 10 years now but seems really dissatisfied. I guess I'm getting off track here cuz this has more to do with Nigerian politics rather than immigration.

    Anyway, you know i've had to deal with this myself and I guess we will continue to for all eternity. I know plenty of people in situations like you just mentioned. Like a set of 4 brothers – 1 came to study, the rest 3 are drug dealers. Why is it so easy for people to go around the law and not care if they do something illegal? Contributes to a bad picture.

    My BIL is still in Germany. I hope he won't do anything illegal. Sigh.

  4. very well said GNG, u really hit the nail on the head…

    I agree with NoLimit too; even those of us legally here in the UK are having to face/fight some new laws and restrictions…so how people over there want to come here any how, I can't seem to understand…

    Or how about those who think just bcos u r abroad, u pluck money from trees, and therefore make unending/ridiculous demands?

  5. "The lifestyle here is more stressful (how else do I explain the fact that both of my parents have more grey hairs than (in my mom’s case her mother and her two aunts, and in my dad’s case his two older siblings?)."

    WOW….life abroad is really stressful

    There is no Nigerian abroad that has not got a tale to tell in regards to family immigration…The best thing is lay down the rules on the table and inform the family members or friends of the consequences involved if they do not apply to the laws of the country.PERIOD.

  6. Excellent post and all so very true.

    I wont lie sha, opportunities are so much easier to come by in this part of the world and some of us were lucky enough not to struggle to get here. Our people's view of what its like living abroad is askew and its party our (those of us living here) fault.

    I know a girl that went home last year. The girl was living in one tiny bachelor apartment here but was saving all her money to go home and "show off". This person bought name brand clothes, expensive jewelry, an expensive watch e.t.c all on credit just to go home and "show". So I dont blame some people for thinking that the life abroad is easy.

  7. I came back to read the comments and I completely forgot to mention Oya's good point.. So many people DO totally give nigerians the wrong impression as well. Time for people living abroad to clean up their act and think a little if you ask me..I was in Nigeria this xmas, man, everybody had bought the newest flashiest cars, the newest designer clothes and jeweleries, you name it…Riding around in huge black hummers with silver rims.

    It's getting old..

  8. I like this post. Fortunately for me i do not have relative like this. But i went to Mexico over a year ago, and i thot it was really sad seeing Nigerian who for some reason felt as soon as they land on American soil that their problems will be solved. U get here and then what? No SSN- how will u live? u cant even get a cell without a ssn.

  9. This post just reminds me of something my pastor says all the time…

    If you're a lizard in Nigeria, you won't go to another country and become an alligator. It still baffles me when people think bailing out of the country is their passport to a good life…my advice to them, wake up!!!

  10. I really don't know why people think like that.. well before i came here sha i thought Yankee is a passport to heaven, but its not easy oo

    like they say who no go no know

  11. Am glad I dont have any relatives like this. there is no easy ride in life whatever it is you have to put in some sweat, thats why i hate those people who want me to put in a good word for them at my firm, just becoz im in middle management they expect me to be able to get them hired……Im like WTF it took me 5 years of law school and thousands of pounds spent on post grad studies to get where I am and you expect to get there by riding off my back???? Hell to the no

  12. Hmm.. Interesting post.. and more interesting comments..

    I’m usually of the opinion that when you see folks taking the high road on issues like this, they’re either legal & settled in their country of choice.. Or doing rather well in Naija..

    There’s usually no in-between

    It’s a bit harder to criticise when you walk through the person’s shoes.. and see what the person has been through..

  13. I agree with No Limit, it is simply a case of the grass being greener on the other side. It is truly hard to convince people that there is a limit to the help you can render to them. I have family who had to deal with sending letters of invitation to others who enter the country under the guise of visiting visa and refuse to leave. Really it is a very messy situation.

  14. I really wish the said people would see the light soon enough and stop making people like your family seem like the ‘bad guy’..

  15. I don’t know why, but I have never really considered the possibility that leaving one’s country to the ‘west’ would solve all your problems!

    I don’t know how people can even think this way!

    Life is life everywhere you go, it just depends on what you make of it. Yes, things are more difficult in some areas than others because of systems that work, still if you really put in the effort, it will work.

    I had the opportunity to work in the US for a few months and visited a few relatives there. One of them was struggling so bad with his wife and 5 kids that I nearly declined to even sleep over at their place. I mean they barely had any spare change! And they lived in THE America!

    Like Adaeze said, i guess we’ll always have this sort of thinking to deal with till eternity comes!

  16. Its almost the same with every family.

    Nigerians generally believe that stepping your feet outside the shores of Nigeria lands you in 'el-dorado' or mini heaven.

    The poverty level in Nigeria, corruption in the government, no regard/value for the human life, people cannot enjoy basic infrastructures, frustration et al makes it difficult to criticize people for wanting to 'check out ' of Nigeria.

    People that say there is no need to relocate out of Nigeria are comfortable, have good jobs, are very healthy and their lives necessarily do not have to depend on our health care system.

    I also agree with Danny Bagucci, I work in an industry where your eyes see all sorts because you are not 'oyinbo' so you are tempted abi na frustrated to 'jet-out' and go be like 'oyinbo' or at least get something close to them

    but I agree with you, people should learn to do things properly, obey the law, get the necessary skills /documentation needed to migrate lawfully to a foreign land

    I salute your family for deciding to stick with obeying the law.

    It is not worth it.

    I feel you o jare

  17. i tire for all these relatives o…your family is very patient explain things over and over…me i will ignore ignore ignore after giving them all the necessary info..i dont have time o

  18. Excellent post, and I'm feeling some of the comments too. Like you mentioned, life in the West is slightly more comfortable because of the infrastructures, health and stuff, but a lot of people in Nigeria think it's endless bliss once they step into the country.

    Some of the people living abroad too don't help by going home to show off during trips back home.

    The issue that really gets to me is when people blatantly disregard the rules/laws of the country they want to migrate to, and then complain when they feel trapped by those very laws. Or they expect that relatives can bail them out when they get into trouble.

  19. Trust me I wish I knew what I needed to know before I moved to the US….i.e knowing how the system works. I've been here for almost 6 years now and it's still a struggle and unfortunately my Father's immediate sister back in Naija doesn't understand that. She thinks that since we moved in with my Dad, my Mom's the reason why my Dad isn't being helpful.

    The things my Dad had to do so that he could put food on the table and make life better for us…..they would never ever understand that. It's been by God's grace that we've been surviving.

    Recently one of my Uncles who's been in Canada for a while won the U.S lottery. He's gonna be here with his family in a few weeks. I'm glad because he was able to understand that there was so much we could do.

    It's not like we don't care but at this point they've left us no choice. My mom always hopes that someday they make it to the states so that they have a feel of what life can be living here.

  20. Classical stereotypes:
    Among Nigerians in Nigeria:
    All Nigerians in Obodo’ibo are living large.

    Among Nigerians outside Nigeria:
    All Nigerians in Nigeria are having a really tough time.

    Unfortunately, this is a lot of times, far from the truth.
    An unfortunate number of Nigerians are struggling, both here and in the diaspora. Some have a better life here and some others there.
    My take, you can be successful anywhere you go, some places might be easier. But the question is, do you have what it takes? Give a man the tool he needs and let him sweat it out; not the finished project.

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