“Japa” the movement
“Japa”, the popular four letter word that’s the dream of the average Nigerian youth. It holds more promise than a simple migration plan. It’s a complete game changer, an opportunity for a different life and a breath of fresh air. This is the word that has the Nigerian community bubbling.
Before “Já pa” became this powerful force, it was simply a Yoruba phrase that means “to run away”. Reborn in the Nigerian Twitter community with a new meaning, it embodies a desire older than it. A wish to relocate or migrate to a new country with fresh opportunities.
Starting with this article, we will be discussing everything you need to know about the Japa craze and what you need to know to be a part of it; the ways you can legally japa from Nigeria and start on a fresh journey of self-discovery.
How it all started
The first wave of ‘’japa’’ in Nigeria was in the ‘70s/’80s. Faced with an uncertain future owing to government issues and a volatile economy, the Nigerian youth journeyed to the West — the US and UK — while some left for other countries.
Even now, more Nigerians are leaving the country in pursuit of their dreams abroad. There has been a persistent wave of migration, with pop culture embracing the movement wholeheartedly and “Japa influencers” pushing the trend. It is more than a passing fancy now, it is a movement.
Why Nigerian youth are “Japa crazy”
While the nation’s troubles might seem like the only motivation, the youth are even more captivated by green pastures overseas and the opportunities for success in different fields. The vibrant energy of the average Nigerian youth, channeled into working hard in various countries, makes them viewed as valuable immigrants.
The possibilities of Japa
How can you make this work for you? Well, if you want to Japa, there are a couple of options you could explore.
“Japa-ing” as a Professional
Many Nigerian professionals leave Nigeria to continue their professional careers abroad because of better work conditions and pay. Many countries offer work visas to make your transition even smoother. You could even migrate as an English tutor to some non-English speaking countries as well.
“Japa-ing” as an investor
Let money do the talking by investing money in the economy of some countries to gain a permanent residence permit or even a citizenship. These countries have investor visas to aid the process. Starting a business is a sure way to relocate as well.
“Japa-ing as a Student
Education is possibly the simplest way to gain easy access into another country. Students can apply to a variety of schools abroad and actually have a chance of getting in! This is because different schools have various requirements for international students.
There are a plethora of scholarships available for international students, as well as grants and aid. Some European and Asian countries even offer free/reduced tuition for prospective students.
You can also easily transition to living and working in the country where you went to school.
“Japa-ing” through family
The means might justify the end with this one, especially if your means is a family member. If you’re fortunate enough to be married, or directly related to someone with a dual citizenship, you might be able to cinch yours as well. This, however, depends on the country involved.
“Japa-ing” through talent
Perhaps you can sing better than a thousand birds, or you’re skilled in something less entertaining, like academia or digital technology. Put yourself out there by researching some visas offered by some countries to people with special talents.
Visas are also offered to people extremely skilled in sports. As you hone your skills, look out for opportunities in your field.
“Japa-ing” through a point-based system
It’s possible to japa through some countries that just open their borders to select individuals. A perfect example is the Canadian Federal Skilled Worker Program (Express Entry).
This is where selection factor points are used to help assess an individual’s eligibility for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. The allocation is based on various factors such as age, qualifications, and work experience. If you do not qualify, you could increase your points by improving your English or completing another degree.
“Japa-ing” as an asylum seeker
This is for individuals who might be persecuted or attacked in their home country. This could be for political reasons or if they are liable to be attacked by their own government. If they can prove it, they can apply for asylum in many countries.
The Japa check-list
So you’ve decided that you’re going to start the relocation process. It’s a challenging decision and an even more challenging process. You will need to know the nuts and bolts of everything to ensure that you do not leave anything out. This checklist is a guide and a reminder that will serve you throughout your relocation journey.
There are a lot of tools at your disposal. Rebuke the myth that tells you that you must have “someone outside” before you can find verifiable information that would inform your decisions.
You could find necessary information on blogs such as this one, right here on Setlinn, as well as a number of authentic sites. Ensure that you are patient as you do your research because this can make or break your entire process.
It is important to search for specific information about the country you wish to relocate to, such as its people, culture, food, economy, visa requirements, fees, and others. You can find all these on the official government website of the country in question.
Obtain or renew your passport.
You’d want to obtain or renew your passport close to when you know you’d be starting the process so that it doesn’t expire before you actually japa. This is because, the process can stretch into long periods and you don’t want your passport to expire during it.
Money is the gear for this entire thing. You’d need money to settle into whichever country you’d be relocating to. Unless, you are traveling with a complete scholarship with stipend, you might not want to move an inch until the money part is sorted. It’s better to properly prepare with enough funds for the process than to realize halfway through that you’d be in need of funds urgently.
Check your health
You need to ensure that you’re fit to travel before you make any big plans. Go to the hospital to do a full check before you get on the plane. You can get tested for COVID from home with OneHealth.
Learn the language BEFORE you go
When the excitement of japa is fresh, you might just “jump” without bothering to dip your toes in the water. Learning the language is as necessary as it is beneficial. Being in a new country is strange enough. Not speaking the language would make the adjustment process even more difficult for you.
Find a language tutor or get a good language app like Duolingo that could assist you.
Learn New Skills
The planning period is the best time to learn a few skills that would be valuable to you in a fresh environment. A good tip is to research the skills that are marketable in your desired country and master them before you travel.
Get and Keep your Documents
A lot of documents will pass through your hands during the preparation process. It’s your responsibility to keep and preserve them properly. Losing documents at the nick of time can be the most frustrating thing you’ll experience. It’s essential to know how to preserve all the important documents you have.
Easiest countries to relocate to from Nigeria
This attractive and bubbling nation is a top destination for a lot of japa hopefuls in Nigeria. This is not just because of its plain immigration and citizenship rules, but also because of its vibrant and inclusive economy.
Paraguay is a country in South America, sharing boundaries with Argentina and Brazil. It is relatively easy to relocate here because of the ease of acquiring a residence permit or visa.
With a large land mass and a deficit of skilled workers, Canada should be at the top of your list of countries to consider “japa-ing” to. It boasts of a stable economy and a straightforward immigration process, which attracts many Nigerians on a year-round basis.
Are you a worker? Well, direct your attention to Denmark! There are plenty of opportunities for workers in the country. Immigrants who fit work requirements are granted residence and work permits.
You don’t need a lot to move to our sister nation- Ghana. With an ECOWAS passport, you can move to Ghana as easily as traveling from Lagos to Abuja. It might be nice to note that the environment is similar to home, and you’d feel like you never left at all.
Having the right information can be a great comfort and guide. This is what we aim to do with this series about the Nigerian Japa movement. Sharing everything you need to know about it, including never-before-heard tidbits and any new information that may emerge. Keep an eye on this page for more updates on relocating abroad for Nigerians.