Japa Story: The secret of how I landed in the UK with just ₦148k and became a cleaner the next day


Japa Story: The secret of how I landed in the UK with just ₦148k and became a cleaner the next day


In 2022, he relocated to Manchester in the UK, but he stated that his ultimate goal is to move to the US.


Bukunmi always aspired to leave Nigeria but faced numerous visa rejections. Despite finally obtaining a UK visa and moving to Manchester in 2022, he remains determined to reach the US and is actively working on various plans to achieve this.


“I felt limited in Nigeria,” Bukunmi said. “With a Computer Science degree, I wanted to create innovative projects and work in an environment where my impact was visible. Nigeria didn’t provide that opportunity for me. I attempted to join Andela and DecagonHQ but was unsuccessful.”


When did you begin the process of leaving Nigeria?

“I initially tried for the US because I had completed an internship there. However, after returning to Nigeria and attempting to pursue a Master’s degree, I was denied a visa four times. I applied twice in Lagos and then in Abuja, but still got denied. Seeing many people head to the UK, I decided to try my luck there but faced two rejections as well. After a two-year hiatus working in Nigeria, my dad suggested trying the UK again, and this time it worked.”


Why were you denied visas initially?

“During my US internship, universities in Nigeria were on strike, so I stayed longer than planned, which likely affected my visa applications.”


How long did the application process take?

“The entire process took about six months. I was due to start in January 2022 but didn’t book my ticket until the last minute due to fear of another visa denial. I studied Artificial Intelligence and Data Science and have now completed my program.”


What was your first day in the UK like?

“It was a sink-or-swim scenario. I arrived with just $100, which converted to £78. My train ticket to school cost £30, and a train card was £38, leaving me with only £7. I knew I needed to start working immediately. The next day, I began cleaning.”


Where did you find cleaning jobs?

“I contacted Airbnb and Booking.com hosts. Having managed an Airbnb in Nigeria, I knew cleaning was a common issue. I had already started researching and messaging hosts from Nigeria. Some responded because I was already in the UK. By my second day, I was working and earning around £500 a week from each client. Now, I manage three students who clean Airbnbs while I continue to clean on Saturdays to stay grounded. I also do part-time security work and have a full-time teaching job.”


Have you faced racism?

“Yes, particularly in security work. People would say ‘Don’t touch me,’ clearly because I’m black. But I have to search everyone.”


What are your plans now that you have completed your studies?

“My immediate goal is to secure permanent residence in Canada, starting with taking the IELTS in September. I’m also pursuing a Global Talent Visa in Data Science and have taken marketing certificate courses to seek Marketing Analyst roles that might sponsor my visa. I’ve applied for a two-year postgraduate visa, which cost £3,000, including health insurance. The primary school where I teach has offered me a Qualified Teacher Status program, which could lead to visa sponsorship.”


“Ultimately, I’m on a 10-year path to citizenship, but I hope one of these plans shortens that to five years. I don’t intend to stay in the UK for 10 years; my end goal is the US, and I will keep working towards that.”


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