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Japa: 11 Routes Nigerians Are Leaving Nigeria

Japa: How Nigerians Are Leaving Nigeria
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In this our Japa series, we cover several issues which focus on how Nigerians are leaving the country. We also discuss why they are leaving, countries they are going to, in-demand skills needed in the countries they plan or going to or are already working or have already entered. We look at the economies of these destination countries, tuitions fees in the schools in those countries as well as jobs and scholarship opportunities available. In fact, we focus on every necessary thing and every important step Nigerians must have and take to have successful japa. So, if you are one of the many Nigerians looking to japa, then this our japa series is for you. Always check our japa category on the website to get latest on our japa series.

The Japa syndrome:

Although we use the word ‘syndrome,’ we do not mean to discuss the japa trend in a negative way. Instead, we merely want to show how it has become a popular and recurrent, in fact, very trending option that Nigerians, especially Nigerian students are taking right now.

What does japa mean?

Almost every Nigerian knows what japa means.

Simply put, it is the act of leaving or trying to leave Nigeria to other countries, especially the Americans, Europe, Asia and other countries deemed favourable, so far as that it is not, at least, most African countries, if not all.

Etymologically, it is a word by the Yoruba people – a West African ethnic group that mainly inhabits parts of Nigeria, Benin and Togo.

It is a slang in Nigeria derived from the Yoruba language and simply means ‘to run swiftly’ out of a dangerous situation.

According to PremiumTimes, to ‘Japa’ means “to abort, run, avoid, terminate, retreat or remove yourself from a situation.”

To Nigerians basically, to japa means to emigrate to another country from Nigeria.

Although japa has been slowly going on in Nigeria, it became a rush for Nigerians in the past decade.

It even increased to a more than usual proportion in the past eight years following poor economic situations in the country, poor education and frequent academic strikes in Nigeria that makes students spend longer years in school on courses that should not take long as well as the worsening security situations in Nigeria.

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Also, the poverty and hunger as well as several issues have forced many Nigerians, especially the youths to want to japa out of Nigeria, that is, for those who have not yet left the shores of the country.

High youth unemployment rate is another serious reason why many Nigerians want to japa.

As at June, 2022, data from the Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics put the unemployment rate in Nigeria at 42.5%.

Yet, behind all the reasons for japa lies the desire for greener pastures abroad.

Nigerians desire to japa to other countries to get better jobs, better education and better living conditions. They also leave Nigeria for countries with better security, organisation and more opportunities to grow on all indices of life.

What more, the availability of post-study work options and even permanent residency are other enticing reasons.

Additionally, the high preference for foreign degrees by Nigerian employers is another major trigger.

Meanwhile, to japa, Nigerians take different routes, with some becoming more popular.

Routes/Ways Nigerians take to Japa:

Although Nigerians have discovered that the academic route is the surest way to japa, there are many other routes too.

They include:

1. Academic/study route.
2. Job/work/employment route.
3.Express Entry/ Entry Points Programs route
4. Visiting/Vacations travels route.
5. Medical/health tourism route.
6. Marriage to foreign partners’ route.
7. Lottery route.
8. Business/investment route.
9. Provincial nominations route.
10. Family reunion route.
11. Sports/Athletic route.

Study/Academic route:

Of all these routes, the study/academic rout is the most popular and surest rout, with Nigeria spending about 92 billion naira in three months on foreign education, data from the Central Bank of Nigeria revealed. Read the report here on Techuncode.

According to the Nigeria Market Sentiments and Study Motivations Report 2022 research project , a full nine out of every 10 Nigerian students are currently seeking opportunities to study abroad.

Canada, USA, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom are countries that have proven to have the best study visas.

This route is so preferred by Nigerians because it offers opportunities for Nigerians to become permanent citizens of those countries.

They can apply for work permits and residency after their studies.

Consequently, the research by Nigeria Market Sentiments and Study Motivations said that about 4,008 respondents, out of which, about 23% were students under 18 years of age.

Also, 49.8% were between 18 and 25 years old, 20% between 26 and 35 years old, 6.19% between 36 and 45 years old and 1.42% above 45 years old.

The report said about two-thirds of surveyed students were interested in undergraduate studies, while the remaining third were looking for graduate programmes.

Meanwhile, study suggests that UK is the most preferred destination by Nigerians as at 2021.

According to a survey by the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency, for the third consecutive year in 2021, the UK achieved favoured status, previously held by the US.

Nearly 30% of international students preferred Britain, 24.5% favoured the US and 16.5% chose Australia, with Canada coming in fourth at 15.8%.

For the UK, applications from Nigeria were said to be up by 83%, for Pakistan by 53% and for India by 13%.

According to the research, for decades, the UK has been a major destination due to the language and bilateral relations between Nigeria and Britain.

Job/Work/Employment route:

This is a route through which Nigerians also take to japa. It involves getting a job offer from employers in countries outside Nigeria before you travel.

Countries such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany and many more expect that you have either gotten an invitation from your employer or you have secured a job before you travel.

Express Entry Route:

This japa route is usually by Canada. It is a point-based system whereby you get points on various requirements and if your total points meets the cut-off point, you can be invited to japa to Canada.

The Canadian Express entry program requires that one is young, well educated with at least two or more degrees and can speak and write the English language. You will prove your English proficiency by scoring high bands in IELTS.

Provincial Nomination route:

This route is also from Canada. Provinces in Canada can nominate you to come to Canada based on certain requirements which include that you possess professional skills in thriving sectors of technology, health, engineering, etc.

Sports/Athletic route:

Many sports clubs seek foreign athletes and talents. They therefore, offer windows for foreign citizens with such talents to apply and come to the respective countries.

Nigerians who want to japa have taken this route too.

Investment/Business route:

This is another rout most Nigerians take to japa. However, this rout is less taken because it involves huge capital.

This rout is usually taken by celebrities and the rich in Nigeria who have the cash to invest in the economies of the countries offering such opportunities.

The Dominican Republic is popular for this type of japa route.

Marriage route:

Another japa route is for a Nigerian to marry a foreigner. This rout, in most cases, grants automatic citizenship to the Nigerian.

The challenge here is in getting a foreigner to marry.

But it still remains one of the sure routes.

Visiting/Vacation route:

Nigerians too japa through visiting or going on vacations to the target countries.

Some gain entry through applying for tourism visa and when they enter, they make other arrangements that eventually see them remaining in the countries.

Although many have abused this route and because of that, it is no longer as easy as it used to be.

Medical/health route:

Nigerians also japa from the country into foreign countries through the medical tourism or health routes.

Those with medical conditions apply to enter foreign countries for treatment such as surgeries and giving birth.

From there, they also make further arrangements not to come back.

Lottery japa route:

The provincial nomination by Canada is a good example here. Nigerians win the lottery to japa and enter some countries via lotteries.

America is another country that has the japa lottery system.

Family Reunion Japa route:

For Nigerians who have family members who are already citizens of other countries, they can begin their japa movements by applying to reunite with their family members in the said countries.

In their applications, they would indicate, with proof, that their family members is inviting them.

Most times, this is possible when you have same surname with the family member.

Also, it could be parents, siblings or spouses.


Yeah, these are some of the japa routes that Nigerians take to leave Nigeria.

We hope this content is very helpful to you.

Do remember to like and share this post. Also, type a comment after reading this report.

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