Japa is more than just the Nigerian dream these days; it’s a necessity — making visa rejections all the more heartbreaking.

The Nigerians in this story understand this all too well. While they didn’t find it funny when their visa applications were rejected, they can look back and laugh about it now because the only other option is to cry. 

Emma*, 29

I don’t know who advised me, but I was feeling lucky on the day of my first US visa interview in 2017, so I wore an “I love New York” shirt to the appointment. I wanted them to see I was already “embracing” life in the US. You need to see the speed with which the consular officer rejected me.

I tried again the following year, and even fasted for 21 days before the interview. They still rejected me. I’ve left their US for them.

Jola*, 33

I was a member of a popular apron-wearing church when I went for my Schengen visa interview in 2019. I wore the apron to the interview as an act of faith and even gave testimony in advance at church. The way the officer looked at me throughout the interview, I knew it was over long before the rejection finally came.

John*, 33

I applied for a US visa in 2018 and prepared for the interview like my life depended on it. I think I paid someone about ₦60k to coach me, and I travelled down to Lagos from Warri two days before the interview because I didn’t want my village people to use bus delays to spoil my plan. 

The interview day came, and the consular officer asked if I was married. I said “No”. She immediately rejected me. I was shocked. I changed mouth and started claiming I had a girlfriend at home, and we were planning marriage, but aunty was already giving me the blue slip. That’s how I began to tearfully repeat, “Why would you do this to me?” as if she knew me from anywhere. 

I swore for our politicians all through the journey home. What would I be looking for in America if the country was working?

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Nadia*, 18

My mum got rejected while seeking US visas for the family in 2007.

We were all dressed in aso-oke and beads because my mum thought it’d mean that we were proud of our country and would come back. After they rejected us, she carried us to Mr. Biggs to eat our sorrows away. The interview was on a Tuesday morning. Imagine the weird looks we got when we pulled up to Mr Biggs dressed like we were going to an owambe.

Chisom*, 27

I don’t know who sent me to form accent during my UK visitor’s visa interview in 2021. I have a very thick Igbo accent and was trying to avoid a thing where the officer would ask me to repeat myself.

I’m not even sure which accent I was impersonating. I just wanted to sound clear. It didn’t work sha. The officer asked me, “Have you lived outside Nigeria before?” even though it was clear I hadn’t. I’m sure she must’ve been wondering where this one found accent. I don’t blame her for rejecting me sef. Who does that?

Favour*, 25

I dry fasted and prayed for three days and nights on this US visa matter. The appointment was for 6:45 a.m., coinciding with the day I was supposed to end the fast. I didn’t even sleep the previous night because I prayed all through.

Two minutes into my interview, the officer said I looked sick, and that he didn’t believe I’d return to Nigeria. To say I was shocked is an understatement.

Dami*, 28

I applied to India to study nursing in 2014. I can’t even remember the reason the interviewer gave for rejecting my visa application. I was just so angry. Like, common India? In anger, I told him, “Out of all the countries, do you think it’s India I’ll choose to migrate to?” The guy was shocked. He started saying something about reapplying, but I just carried myself away from there.

*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

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Psst! Have you seen our Valentine Special yet? We brought back three couples – one now with kids, one now married and the last, still best friends – to share how their relationships have evolved in the last five years. Watch the first episode below:



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.