The world’s most expensive passports revealed - THE INDEPENDENT
Story by Helen Wilson-Beevers
The world’s most expensive passports have been revealed.
Australia tops the list of countries charging the most, with an adult passport costing citizens £192.
The list has been published by insurance company William Russell based on data from the Global Passport Fees 2023 list, and ranks the 38 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Mexico is the second most expensive country, with citizens charged £142 for a passport.
Meanwhile, Switzerland is in third place with passports costing £117 per adult, while an Italian passport is fourth on the list at a cost of £113.
The US comes in fifth costing £109, closely followed by New Zealand (£107), a Chile (£106) and Canada (£104).
Also in the top 10 but coming in under the £100 mark is Japan at a cost of £96 and a passport for citizens in Turkey, which is priced at £92.
The UK shares 12th place with Greece, as both countries charge citizens £84 for an adult passport. Meanwhile, a passport in Luxembourg costs far less at £50 and a Swedish passport is even cheaper at £38.
In 36th place sits Spain, where citizens are charged £28 for a passport.
Czech Republic is the least expensive country on the 38-strong list as a passport there costs only £23.
This research also includes the varying cost of tourist, student, and work visas in different countries.
Australia is also listed as the most expensive country for student visa fees, with an average charge of £375.
Meanwhile, the US takes top place for the most expensive tourist visa fees, at £107 on average. Finally, it costs the most to get a work visa in Columbia, where you can expect to pay £246.
The world’s 20 most expensive passports
- United States
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
Japa: Nigerian dependants in UK outnumber students – Analysis - PUNCH
By Deborah Tolu-Kolawole
An analysis of visas the United Kingdom issued to Nigerians in 2022 has revealed that more visas were granted to dependants than students.
Though the figure of visas issued from June 2022 to April 2023 would be out on Thursday, the UK, however, enacted a law that banned migrating students of some countries, including Nigeria, from bringing their family members to the country.
Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency in the UK revealed that 44,195 study visas were issued to Nigerians for the 2021/2022 academic session.
However, this is lower than the number of dependants’ visas issued to family members, as the data accessed by our correspondent on Tuesday suggested that 60,923 dependants migrated to the UK during the period under review.
According to the Daily Mail, the home office has suggested that the growth in study-related visas granted to dependants could be because a greater number of older students are coming to Britain.
The PUNCH had reported that Nigeria had been undergoing a migration wave popularly referred to as Japa.
The UK, Canada, and the United States were said to be among the popular choices of destinations.
In the 2020-21 academic year, 21,305 Nigerian students were enrolled at UK universities. This represents an almost 64% increase from the 2019-20 figure.
Though not yet released, the figure for the 2022-23 academic year might be even higher, anecdotal evidence suggests.
As of September 2021, only two other countries, China and India, were sending more students to the UK than Nigeria.
Enrolments from Nigeria spiked from 12,820 in 2016-17 to 21,305 in 2020-21 to 44,195 in 2021/2022.
Among all nationalities, Nigerians represented the largest relative increase in sponsored study visa grants, which reached a record high of 65,929, a nearly 700% increase from 2019 and a 222.8% increase compared to the same period in 2021.
UK Stops Overseas Students Bringing Families as Migration Soars - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Rishi Sunak’s government said it will ban international students from bringing their families to the UK, ahead of data expected to show net migration has doubled since before Britain left the European Union.
The rules will take effect for students arriving from January 2024, unless they are on postgraduate research courses. The government said 136,000 student dependents came in 2022, up from 16,000 in 2019 — though that number includes the families of undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The Office for National Statistics is poised to publish new figures Thursday expected to show net migration rose to a record last year. That’s a political problem for Sunak, who is under pressure to deliver on a long-standing Conservative Party promise to bring down numbers — a central argument among supporters of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
“The government committed to bringing net migration down in the 2019 manifesto and remains committed to doing so,” Home Secretary Suella Braverman said in a statement. “But immigration is dynamic, and we must constantly iterate our approach to take account of changing migrant flows and respond to evidence of abuse or unintended consequences.”
While migration from the continent has gone into reverse with freedom-of-movement rules ending in 2021, arrivals from elsewhere are soaring. Braverman lashed out at her own government’s performance in a speech last week widely seen as an attempt to bolster her own leadership credentials.
Foreign airlines made $1.1bn in Nigeria 2022 – Report - PUNCH
Foreign airlines operating in Nigeria raked in around $1.1bn in 2022 despite foreign exchange challenges, The PUNCH reports.
In a conversation with our correspondent on Monday, the Chairman of the Airlines and Passengers Joint Committee of the International Air Transport Association, Bankole Bernard, quoting a report, he stated that the $1.1bn revenue generated from travel in Nigeria is expected to continue thriving due to the high demand for travelling within the country. He expressed confidence that the figures will remain steady in the near future.
The PUNCH had reported that the Senate passed a resolution calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria to release $717,478,606 of airline funds that were trapped in the country.
The upper chamber also urged the CBN to allocate $25m to airlines operating in Nigeria at its fortnightly dollar auction.
Responding, Bernard stated that the Senate may not intervene, adding that the CBN had already shown disregard for the law by only complying with a court order to release the old notes.
“The CBN is not going to do anything. We find ourselves in any environment that is full of anarchy. Anarchy is a state of confusion where there is a total disregard for the law. It took the court to summon CBN to comply with even releasing the old notes, and you now think the Senate will talk to them and they will listen. Let’s be sincere with ourselves and stop fooling around,” he argued.
When asked if some of the affected airlines might withdraw their services as a result of the trapped funds, he said, “They cannot withdraw their service, unfortunately. They did not buy the aircraft for them to park. If they have somewhere more lucrative to take the aircraft to they will take it there. So, do not be deceived, it is because they still find our market viable irrespective of these challenges and that is the sincerity we must all face. Our market is viable that is why they are still coming. However, it does not mean that they do not have challenges.”
Bernard, who is also the Managing Director /CEO of Finchglow Holdings, disclosed that some of the airlines had started selling tickets in dollars, adding that the exchange rate for the conversion had gone up significantly.
“They have started selling in dollars. Not only are they selling in dollars, the exchange rate for the conversion has gone really high. It is 640/$, which is closer to the black market rate,” he said.
Also reacting, the spokesperson for foreign airlines in Nigeria, Kingsley Nwokoma, stated that unless the Nigerian government takes immediate action to repatriate the funds, airlines might be forced to leave the country.
Nwokoma emphasised that the demand for the repatriation of funds had been a long-standing issue among foreign airlines in Nigeria and the inability to access those funds had led to a significant impact on the airlines’ operations, profitability, and ultimately their willingness to continue operating in the country.
According to him, many airlines have currently either ceased operations due to the inability to repatriate their funds or cut down on the frequency of flights.
Nwokoma claimed that if the government does not immediately begin the process of repatriating the trapped funds, more airlines would leave the country.
Speaking on the possibility of the CBN to begin disbursement of the funds following Senate’s order, he said, “You will not see that happen with the limited days of this tenure because it has been a while the airlines have been clamouring for these funds and we have seen the consequence, airlines are leaving. More airlines are planning to leave if these funds are not repatriated.
“Before we start to talk about whether it will be in tranches or whatever mode, there has to be that willingness from the government to the airline. It has to say it has this amount of money, and it wants to make sure that everyone gets the money according to the BASA regulation. If any of the airlines have been called or there had been any mechanism to begin any disbursement, the airline would have made a statement.”
UK bars Nigerian students, others from bringing family by January - PUNCH
The United Kingdom has put in place a law that will see Nigerian students, and others studying in the UK from bringing family as dependents except under specific circumstances.
This is as the UK government aims to bring immigration into the country which stands at about 1 million down.
Under the new rule, the UK will remove the permission for international students to switch out of the student route and into work routes before their studies have been completed to prevent misuse of the visa system.
Sky News also added that “there will also be a review of the maintenance requirement for students and dependents and a crackdown on “unscrupulous” education agents “who make use of inappropriate applications to sell immigration, not education”.
This change takes effect January 2024 to allow students starting courses in the UK time to plan to adapt to the new rules.
This new law comes after indications had emerged that the UK plans to put stricter laws in place to bring down the climbing number of immigrants into the country via studies.
In a written ministerial statement on Tuesday, Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, said recent immigration figures had shown an “unexpected rise” in the number of dependants coming to the UK alongside international students.
According to Braverman, the increase was made after the government made its commitment to lower net migration, the UK media house reported.
Braverman said while the government’s strategy around international education “plays an important part in supporting the economy”, it should “not be at the expense of our commitment to the public to lower overall migration”.
According to Sky News, Braverman said the package strikes the right balance between acting decisively on tackling net migration and protecting the economic benefits that students can bring to the UK.
A statement on the UK’s Home Office official site adds that the “New government restrictions to student visa routes will substantially cut net migration by restricting the ability for international students to bring family members on all but post-graduate research routes and banning people from using a student visa as a backdoor route to work in the UK.
“The ONS estimated that net migration was over 500,000 from June 2021 to June 2022. Although partly attributed to the rise in temporary factors, such as the UK’s Ukraine and Hong Kong schemes, last year almost half a million student visas were issued while the number of dependants of overseas students has increased by 750% since 2019, to 136,000 people.”
The Home Office also noted that this new rule is not at the expense of the government’s commitment to the public to lower overall migration and ensure that migration to the UK is highly skilled and provides the most benefit.
According to them, the proposal is aimed at allowing “the government to continue to meet its International Education Strategy commitments while making a tangible contribution to reducing net migration to sustainable levels. The government has also made clear that the terms of the graduate route remain unchanged.”
The Home Office also made it clear that “the proposals announced today do not detract from the success of the government’s International Education Strategy, including meeting the target to host 600,000 international higher education students studying in the UK each year by 2030, for two years running.”
Official statistics, which are due to be published this week, are expected to show that net migration has increased from 504,000 in the 12 months to June 2022 to more than 700,000 in the year to December, Sky News said.
According to data, foreign students brought 135,788 family members to Britain last year – nine times more than in 2019 while in 2022, 59,053 Nigerian students brought over 60,923 relatives.
Cathay Pacific Suspends Crew After Discrimination Complaint - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. fired three flight attendants after a swift probe of recorded comments that went viral in China, showing crew members disparaging passengers who didn’t speak English.
The airline terminated the three just hours after initiating an investigation over allegations of discrimination. In a statement late Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer Ronald Lam apologized to the affected passengers and vowed “zero tolerance” for violations of company rules and standards.
A passenger on the Sunday flight from Chengdu to Hong Kong recorded audio of an attendant allegedly saying that if people couldn’t say “blanket” in English, they shouldn’t be able to have one. The comments are followed by laughter in the background.
Authorities in Hong Kong, where Cathay is based, expressed “deep concern” to the carrier. “The incident is a serious breach of Hong Kong’s reputation for service excellence, long-standing values and ethical standards,” Lam Sai-Hung, Transport and Logistics secretary, said in a statement released late night.
Cathay said earlier it had contacted passengers to investigate the incident.
Bloomberg News wasn’t able to independently verify the audio file. A passenger who posted the clip on the social-media platform Xiaohongshu didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a subsequent post wrote that Cathay executives had called her to learn more about what happened on Flight 987.
Cathay will ensure all employees respect passengers from all backgrounds and provide professional services in a uniform way, the carrier said in the statement. Lam will lead a review meant to prevent similar incidents from happening again.
The autonomous region’s government urged Cathay to complete its review as soon as possible and to make fundamental improvements to the company’s mechanisms and staff attitudes, according to the statement.
A hashtag about Cathay’s apology was one of the top-trending topics on Weibo, with more than 140 million views.
The wrath of China’s so-called netizens over perceived slights has caused plenty of corporate damage over the years, with calls for boycotts of companies from Mercedes-Benz Group AG to Hennes & Mauritz AB.
Cathay shares rose 0.7% on Tuesday in Hong Kong.
--With assistance from Linda Lew, Siddharth Philip and Jacob Gu.
(Updates with Hong Kong government response in fourth, eighth paragraphs.)
Japa: Why UK banned Nigerian students from bringing spouses, children - VANGUARD
By Biodun Busari
The United Kingdom announced on Tuesday that foreign students will not be allowed to bring their families – spouses, children and parents to the country.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the restrictions will take place from January 2024.
She also said the ban is only for foreign undergraduate and postgraduate students on non-research courses.
The UK government gave reasons for this new restriction policy which are:
1. Rishi Sunak’s move to cut down migration
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has planned that one of the ways to revive the British economy is to cut down on migration. He, then, used this as a mechanism to cut down on immigrants moving to the UK.
2. Nigeria has the highest number of African students studying in UK
According to a UK education data group, Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), Nigeria is the third highest country with students studying in the UK after China and India. This also makes it the first in Africa.
3. Large number of foreigners relocating to UK are non-EU
The UK government is worried that the rise in migration has largely been driven by people coming to the UK from outside the EU – including 170,000. Sunak’s government said refugees and African and Asian migrants are resettling in the country.
4. To reduce number of Nigerians, others taking over British economy
The UK government is engaging in this cutting of migration to reduce the number of immigrants taking key sectors of its economy. Earlier this week, Braverman called for lower immigration and suggested more British people should be trained to do jobs commonly done by overseas workers, such as lorry driving and fruit picking.
Nigerian surfers brave oil pipelines, tankers to catch waves - FRANCE 24
Tarkwa Bay, in Nigeria's economic hub, has become a hotspot for young people seeking an escape from their daily grind.
Taking part in one of the first national surfing competitions in Nigeria, young men and women showed off their moves in front of friends watching from the shore.
The sport is still far from being as popular as it is in other African countries such as Senegal, South Africa or Morocco.
But 20-year-old Gabriel is determined to become "a champion".
"Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next month, but I believe one day I will become a champion," he told AFP.
Children as young as six are already practising on small boards, looking up to the likes of Gabriel who says he has been surfing every day for seven years.
A fishing village only accessible by boat, Tarkwa Bay is one of the only leisure spots near Lagos, a city of some 20 million people.
On the weekend, wealthy Nigerians and foreigners come to its beach to relax, spending money that provides a lifeline for the local area.
But for many in this community with no school or hospital, surfing provides a welcome distraction -- and hope.
Surfing has helped some recover from the mass evictions that were carried out by the Nigerian army in January 2020.
"They demolished all our houses, almost all the surfers' houses. They said that the problem is pipeline vandals," said Gabriel, referring to those who damage pipelines to steal and sell crude oil.
Despite being the world's sixth largest oil producer, the majority of Nigerians live in extreme poverty and some have turned to oil theft to survive.
The soldiers arrived on the beach with bulldozers, giving thousands of residents an hour to leave.
Three years later, rubble testifies to the violence of the forced evictions.
At the time, the military said the communities were directly or indirectly involved in the oil theft.
Residents have since then slowly returned to Tarkwa but the community has never fully recovered.
"We are just struggling -- struggling to have a shelter, to eat food, to have a good life," said Gabriel.
"We have been surfing hard... to just forget everything else."
Adewale Fawe, president of the Nigeria Surfing Federation, said the competition that took place last Sunday brought "something positive" to the lives of some of the neediest.
"With surfing, some of them that are hopeless, that have nothing to do, that are frustrated, are beginning to develop hope," Fawe said.
"It takes them away from bad criminality, it takes them away from drug abuse," he added.
His dream is to develop the sport in other parts of Nigeria, such as Bayelsa in the oil-rich Niger Delta where fishing communities are struggling in one of the world's most polluted areas due to decades of oil exploration.
And "who knows," said Fawe, "maybe one day compete in the Olympics."
The most talented surfers at Tarkwa are given surfboards by charities or brands and share them with the community, but more are needed.
"When we are not in the water, we give our boards to the pickin (children, in Pidgin English) for them to try," said Gabriel, who for the admiring younger surfers is already a champion.
Rwanda on Standby to Receive UK Migrants, President Kagame Says - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Rwandan President Paul Kagame said his government remains committed to accepting asylum seekers deported from the UK, a plan that’s drawn criticism from human-rights groups and is being legally challenged.
“For us to receive them and process them, working with the UK, we are ready,” Kagame said in an interview at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha on Tuesday. “UK has to be ready on their part.”
The UK’s Court of Appeal last month held a four-day hearing on challenges to the legality of the policy of flying asylum seekers arriving in Britain some 4,000 miles (6,437 kilometers) to the East African nation, and has yet to say when it will deliver its ruling. The United Nations Refugee Agency told the court the plan will expose the migrants to “serious harm” and was incompatible with the UK’s international obligations.
While Rwanda has consistently had one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and made strides in drawing foreign investment, Kagame’s administration has been criticized by advocacy groups for failing to respect human rights and repressing political opposition.
Kagame described the deal with the UK as a development partnership that would entail “resettling migrants who need to settle down” and give them “the freedom to do what they want to do in places that they are stable.”
The idea came about after Rwanda began accepting African refugees who were caught up in instability in Libya while en route to Europe in 2018. It’s also been explored by some European countries, Kagame said, without identifying them.
Lufthansa Agrees With Italy to Take Minority Stake in ITA - BLOOMBERG
(Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Lufthansa AG agreed to buy a stake in Italian carrier ITA Airways, allowing the German airline to expand in Europe’s third-largest aviation market while letting Rome rid itself of an asset that’s soaked up billions of euros in state support.
Lufthansa, the region’s biggest airline group, will invest €325 million ($349 million) via a capital increase for a 41% stake, with the Italian government contributing an additional €250 million, according to a statement by the airline. The company has the option to increase its stake or buy all of ITA outright, with the purchase price depending on certain financial metrics that need to be met.
“A stronger ITA will invigorate competition in the Italian market,” Lufthansa Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr said in the statement.
ITA and its predecessor, Alitalia SpA, have been a drag on state coffers for decades. Alitalia, which began flying two years after the end of World War II, officially ceased operations in 2021 and a scaled-back version, reborn as Italia Trasporto Aereo, or ITA, remained under government ownership.
The transaction continues a consolidation drive in the European aviation market that’s now built principally around three main groups: Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and IAG SA, the parent of British Airways and Iberia. Then there are low-cost carriers like Ryanair Holdings Plc, EasyJet Plc and Hungary’s Wizz Air Holdings Plc. A few airlines remain independent, including Portugal’s TAP and SAS AB in Scandinavia, with the latter is currently working through insolvency proceedings.
Lufthansa plans to expand the fleet to 94 aircraft by 2027 from 71 now and increase the number of employees to 5,500 by then, it said in the release. ITA will become part of Lufthansa’s multi-hub strategy that will establish Rome as a major airport for the group, with a particular focus on long-haul traffic, according to the release.
According to a business plan, revenue at ITA will rise to €4.1 billion in 2027 from €2.5 billion expected for this year. Lufthansa said the Italian government can sell its remaining stake in ITA “in the medium term if the agreed financial targets for net debt and EBITDA are achieved.”
For Lufthansa, the foray is a gamble on an Italian market that’s more competitive than the German carrier is accustomed to following the rapid expansion of low-cost operators. Chief Financial Officer Remco Steenbergen cautioned this month that it would take some time to make ITA profitable.
The deal is expected to receive intensive antitrust review from European Commission officials in Brussels.
Adding ITA expands Lufthansa’s stable of German, Swiss, Austrian and Belgian flag carriers. It will allow the company to optimize flight schedules on European routes, boosting yields.
(Updates second paragraph with financial details of transaction.)