How To Japa: Migrating From Nigeria

September 6, 2021

Relocating from Nigeria is a fairly popular topic among Nigerians. Whether as a joke or seriously, Nigerians are ever quick to talk about how they’re tired of Nigeria and would like to move to another country — in other words, they want to “japa”. 

Originally, “Já pa” is a Yoruba phrase that means “to run away”.

Try this: Google “Ways to relocate from Nigeria”, and all the results you’ll see on the first page are on ways to relocate to Canada from Nigeria. If you’re a Nigerian, you’ve probably thought of moving to Canada at least once. That’s because in Nigeria, the idea of japa-ing is synonymous with the idea of moving to Canada. 

In this article, we’ll explain all the ways Nigerians can legally relocate from Nigeria just like all the people we’ve interviewed in our Abroad Life column.  Sit back, grab your pen and paper, and figure out the one that suits you best.

And don’t forget to share this with your friends.

Ways To Relocate From Nigeria

1. You can relocate from Nigeria as a student

A simple way to leave Nigeria and gain academic advancement at the same time is through student visas. Both undergraduate and postgraduate students have the opportunity to study outside Nigeria and then settle in those countries. Many European and Asian countries offer cheap, or even free education to people. Many countries and schools abroad also offer scholarships. With good research and a good application process, you can secure a legitimate scholarship.  

illustrated opened nigerian passport booklet with visa and travel stamps

2. You can relocate from Nigeria as a professional

While this is a wide spectrum, a lot of Nigerian professionals are leaving Nigeria to continue their businesses and professional careers abroad. Countries all over the world offer work visas to people to move into their countries to work, and then become immigrants. For instance,  a lot of Nigerian doctors and nurses, are leaving Nigeria to start work abroad.


People who work for international organisations can also get transferred to different countries if their employers decide to transfer them.

Some non-English speaking countries are constantly looking for people who can speak English to migrate into their countries to teach English. This is a way to migrate professionally.

In some countries,  pastors and missionaries can also get religious worker visas.

3. You can relocate from Nigeria as an investor

Some countries have investor visas, where if you invest a certain amount of money in the economy, you automatically become a permanent resident or a citizen. Some other countries allow you to become a permanent resident when you buy land and properties.

You could also japa by starting a business in countries that let you start a business in their country because you would be helping their economy.

In some other countries, you can buy a citizenship. Just pay the government, and you become a citizen.

4. You can relocate from Nigeria through family

If you’re married, or you can prove that you’re the parent or child of someone that’s a citizen of some countries, you are given automatic citizenship or permanent residence. 

5. You can relocate from Nigeria through a point-based system

Some countries open their borders to people that just want to japa from their countries. They use a point-based system to qualify or disqualify people. These points are allocated through different metrics such as age, qualifications, work experience, etc. Many Nigerians that are in Canada are there through this system

6. You can relocate from Nigeria as a talented person

Some countries like the UK offer visas to people with talent in arts, academia, and digital technology. Some other countries offer visas to people who are extremely good at sports. 

7. You can relocate from Nigeria as an asylum seeker

If you’re facing persecution in your home country and you can prove it, you can apply for asylum in many different countries. 

These 7 points are the broad ways people can leave Nigeria. Over time, we’ll go into more details about how you can specifically leave Nigeria through each of the methods we’ve mentioned here. 

You’re probably wondering, “Now I know the different ways to relocate to a whole bunch of countries, but what countries do I relocate to?” We know, and that’s why we’re going to share some of the top countries to migrate to as a Nigerian.

Top Countries To Migrate To From Nigeria

1. Sweden

Stockholm Old Town, Sweden

You probably didn’t think Sweden was going to be number 1 on this list, but Sweden is a very immigrant-friendly country. A global survey in 2016 ranked her as the best country to be an economic immigrant. Sweden also has low tax rates, advanced transportation, infrastructure, and free health care and education. And to top that all off, Sweden is one of the most beautiful places on earth. What more are you looking for? 

2. Canada

Canada

Known to many in Nigeria as “Nigeria 2.0”, Canada is the second-largest country by landmass in the world. Ironically, its population density is one of the lowest in the world. Simply put, there’s space in Canada. Canada has a very strong and stable economy, and because of all the job opportunities available, they’re constantly looking for skilled people to move there. A very popular way to move to Canada is through their point-based Express Entry program for skilled workers. You can read more on that here.

It’s also not a myth that Canadians are very friendly, so you’re probably not going to have a hard time settling in. It also helps that the official languages are English and French.

If you can’t stand the cold though, Canada is not for you. 

3. Ghana

Independence square, Accra, Ghana

When considering countries to migrate to, a lot of people overlook Ghana. It is however a pretty good country to migrate to especially if you are on a budget, and looking to stay within Africa. Ghana has stable electricity and good roads. The everyday cultures of Ghanaians are also very similar to Nigerians’.

With your ECOWAS passport, you can easily migrate to Ghana without stress. Another perk of migrating to Ghana is its proximity to Nigeria. If you have business in Nigeria but you don’t want to live here, try Ghana. 

4. Norway

riverside view of colorful row of houses in Trondheim, Norway

Norway does not have strict immigration rules and offers a relatively easy process for immigrants. It also offers a good standard of living, free education and generally a safe and ideal place to bring up a family. 

5. Finland

skyline view of igloo like homes in Finland during winter

Finland is one of the safest countries in the world. If that’s not enough for you to decide that you want to move there, you should hear about the high education rate, low corruption rates and scenic beauty of the land. In summer, it’s practically bright all the time. The sun stays up till about 3 a.m. and comes out before 6 a.m.

In winter though, it’s dark for months. If you don’t mind that balance, Finland is for you. 

6. Australia

Sydney, Australia with the opera house in view

Being the sixth largest country by landmass in the world, Australia has the lowest population density. This means it offers a lot of job opportunities, which is a great way to apply for a permanent residence. Australia also has pretty good climate conditions and beautiful landscapes.

Just like Canada, a lot of Nigerians migrate to Australia through a point-based system for skilled workers. Those visas usually last for an initial period of five years, and then can be converted into permanent visas. 

7. United Kingdom

Skyline view of London, England featuring attractions like the millenium eye

Recently, the United Kingdom made its immigration policies a whole lot less strict. As a Nigerian, after graduating from a higher institution in the UK, you can now stay two extra years. This means that you can work and begin to apply for your permanent residence. The UK is a developed country with a lot of Nigerians, so you can find a lot of Nigerian communities. 

8. Switzerland

Switzerland mountains

The quality of living in Switzerland is high. However, it’s not so easy to move to Switzerland. The best bet for Nigerians looking to move to Switzerland is through a student visa. After your program finishes, you can apply for a job. If you don’t get one in six months, you will be asked to leave the country. 

9. Germany

 Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau, Germany‎

Germany is one of the best countries in Europe for immigrants. The problem people face relocating to Germany is usually the language, but being a skilled worker with vocational training gives you an advantage. The best way Nigerians can migrate to Germany is by applying to, and getting admitted into German universities. A student visa is a great way to migrate to Germany. 

As you might have noticed, it’s not so easy to migrate into many of these countries. Don’t worry, we’ve also made a list of the easiest countries to migrate to. 

Easiest Countries To Migrate To From Nigeria 

1. Paraguay

Paraguay

Paraguay is situated in South America. It shares borders with Argentina and Brazil. Paraguay is a pretty friendly Country with a low cost of living and it is also relatively safe. Securing a resident permit or visa is also easy and affordable.

2. Mexico

Most Beautiful and Best Cities to Visit in Mexico

Like Paraguay, Mexico is also situated in South America. It offers a low cost of living as well as great food and culture. Here’s the great thing: You can get an FMM visa that allows you to stay in Mexico for 180 days for just $21. When the visa expires, you can renew it a limitless amount of times while still being in the country. 

3. Panama

Panama city

Panama is located on the narrow bridge of land that connects North and South America. This country has one of the easiest immigration laws, it however does not allow dual citizenship. One would have to renounce citizenship from their home country.

4. Canada

Canada in Pictures

 Due to its large mass of land and shortage of skilled workers, Canada is one of the most developed countries with the most straightforward immigration process. Because you have to prove that you have some money in the bank and write some exams, it might not be so cheap, but in the end, it’s not a difficult process. 

5. Argentina

How to Japa to ARGENTINA

Argentina has very beautiful landscapes. It offers low cost of living as well as excellent opportunities for employment and education. It is however ideal that you get a basic knowledge of Spanish to make your stay easier.

6. Singapore

Singapore in Pictures

Singapore is referred to as Asia’s most competitive country in the trade and investment industry. It is also one of the most developed countries in Asia and has reasonable immigration and citizenship rules. It is however also a pretty expensive country to live in as it has a small landmass.

7. Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

This country is situated in the Caribbean and has a very visually appealing landscape. It also has one of the fastest-growing economies in South America. Qualifications for citizenship however require that one should be able to fluently speak Spanish.

8. Denmark

Demnark

Denmark has work-related schemes that list out job options that have a shortage of workers. Hence, immigrants who fit any of these categories are offered immediate work and resident permits.

9. Ecuador

Ecuador

Aside from its tourism, Ecuador is also a great country choice for immigration. It is affordable and generally has a low cost of living

10. Ghana

skyline view of Ghana

You don’t need a lot to move to Ghana. If you have your ECOWAS passport, you can move.

What Do You Need To Do Before You Try To Relocate?

Do a lot of research

Whether it’s as a student, a skilled worker or a tourist, you need to do a ton of research before you go to a new country. You need to learn about its people, cultures, economy, visa requirements, hidden fees, processes and a whole lot more, and it’s something you have to do by consuming a lot of information from reliable sources online yourself. A lot of the time, countries have official websites with a lot of information. You can also find information on other reliable platforms.

Save a lot of money

You’re going to need money to settle wherever you go. Sometimes, you need money to get an apartment, buy new furniture, do some registration, and much more. You can’t relocate to a new country with a dearth of funds. You might get blindsided and find yourself in a not so great situation.

Renew your passport

Sometimes, the process for immigrating can span for years. You don’t want your passport to expire in the process, especially at a crucial time. Renew your passport before you start the process.

Develop a new skill

Apart from making you more valuable in the marketplace, skills can help you survive. You absolutely don’t want to go into a new country without marketable skills.

Learn the new language

If there’s a different language spoken in the country where you’re going, it is helpful to learn at least the conversational basics.

Document like crazy

Relocation requires a lot of documentation. You need to know where and how to get the right documents, and how to keep them safe. Without this, your relocation plans will be frustrated.

As time passes, we’ll update this article and publish more articles that will help your japa plans. 

Stay with us if you want to japa. 


David Odunlami

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